SCH freshman Jamie Costarino closes in on a second-place finish at the Girls Inter-Ac League Cross Country Championships. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Just two points separated the top three teams last Monday at the 2011 Girls Inter-Ac League Cross Country Championships. Unfortunately for area fans, all of them hail from the other side of the Schuylkill. Academy of Notre Dame won its seventh straight team title with a total of 51 points, just ahead of runner-up Agnes Irwin (52) and third-place Episcopal Academy (53).

The home crowd at the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy course still had plenty to cheer about when the girls began to arrive at the finish line, as SCH ninth grader Jamie Costarino snagged second place overall for the Lions. She completed the five-kilometer (3.1-mile) course in 19 minutes, five seconds, becoming runner-up to Notre Dame senior Maria Seykora. The veteran for the Irish won in 18:44, setting a new meet record.

With her second-place performance, Costarino beat another strong senior for the Irish, Caroline Powers, as well as defending league champ Catie Skinner, a junior from Penn Charter. Powers was third in 19:15, and Skinner fourth in 19:29.

Seykora, the runner-up in 2010, has been on a mission this fall and would not be denied the Inter-Ac crown.

The Lions’ Costarino was thrilled with her finish.

“I was nervous before the race, so I tried to just focus on what I wanted to do,” she said. “My plan going into it was just to stay with Catie and Maria. I was a little surprised at how well I was doing.”

Skinner has been suffering from a minor foot ailment, but wasn’t making excuses, saying “it was just a bad day.”

The junior from Mount Airy is also the defending champion of the Pa. Independent School Championships, and will be looking to retain her title this Saturday at Belmont Plateau in Fairmount Park. She’s turned in some strong performances this fall, and has proven she can handle the hilly course at Belmont. Even with a disappointing effort at Inter-Ac’s, she’s likely to be a force to be reckoned with at States.

Last Monday, SCH’s Costarino made an important move a little before the halfway mark, passing Skinner and Powers as the leaders climbed out of a gully on the St. Martin’s golf course.

“I ran the course on Friday and it was a mess, but it dried out really well,” the ninth grader related. “In the last part of the race I didn’t want to blast too much to try and catch Maria. I wanted to keep my place and not burn myself out.”

After the top four came the Episcopal Academy leader, junior Georgia Wassall (19:58), and the top runner for Agnes Irwin, senior Vivian Hastings (20:07). Following them were EA upperclassman Kristin Greenwood (seventh; 20:16), and Irwin seniors Christina Wusinich (eighth; 20:25) and Kate Alden (ninth; 20:27). Notre Dame junior Siobhan Dougherty rounded out the top ten in 20:31, and Germantown Academy’s lead runner, senior Christina DeRusso, secured 11th place in 21:04.

Penn Charter was fourth in the team standings with 113 points, even though injuries had sidelined three regular varsity runners, including the Quakers’ number two, junior Ani Schug. One of the best Penn Charter performances this month was given by coach Renee Skelly. Just over a year after giving birth to her first child, she decided to try her hand (or should we say feet) at marathon running. In her debut at that distance on October 9, she won the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, Pa. in a time of two hours, 50 minutes and 58 seconds.

At the Inter-Ac meet, the next Charter runner after Skinner was junior Heidi Zisselman, placing 17th in 21:40. Also scoring for the Quakers were senior Shi Kuang (25th; 22:41), junior Caitlyn Farrell (30th; 23:14) and senior Emma Cataldi (37th; 24:00).

The GA runners who followed DeRusso into the scoring column were freshman Kelsie Hermance (28th; 22:56), junior Bridie Lawlor (29th; 23:05), senior Amanda Logan (31st; 23:32) and freshman Morgan Reese (32nd; 23:38). The Patriots were the fifth-place team with 131 points, while Springside Chestnut Hill was sixth with 149 and Baldwin School seventh with 169.

SCH was competing without junior Maddi Hinchey and sophomore Sarah-Chen Ogorek, who were both hobbled by injuries. It was another junior, Kelsea Brewer, who was the next Lion across the line after Costarino, turning in a time of 22:56 for the 27th spot. Caroline Canning, a sophomore out for the team for the first time this fall, was 33rd in 23:43, and the SCH score was completed by a pair of seniors who finished in tandem, Emily Davis (43rd; 24:50) and Toni Hall (44th; 24:51).



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