About 50 meters from the finish line, Penn Charter senior Catie Skinner closes in on the 2012 Pa. Independent School individual championship. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Penn Charter senior Catie Skinner recaptured the individual title she’d first won in 2010, and the Germantown Friends girls repeated as team champions at the 2012 Pa. Independent Schools Cross Country Championships, which took place last Saturday at Belmont Plateau in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park.

Held on a partly cloudy but otherwise pleasant afternoon, the meet dodged the impending tropical storm, and suffered no recurrence of the freak October snowfall that whitened the course at last year’s championships.
Skinner, who won the 2010 title with a time of 19 minutes, 10.07 seconds and then was the runner-up last year, reclaimed the crown this fall in 19 minutes, 27.69 seconds.

Springside Chestnut Hill Academy sophomore Jamie Costarino, who’d outdueled Skinner a dozen days earlier to win the Girls Inter-Ac League championship, was the runner up at the Pa. Indy meet, checking in at 19:41.96.

Germantown Academy freshman Kupsky rounded the course in 19:52.30 to finish third, the same place she snagged at the Inter-Ac meet.

If any Tigers fans were worried about not seeing a Germantown Friends uniform on any of the top three finishers, they shouldn’t have been.

Tight spacing of the five scoring runners has been a hallmark of Tigers teams under the regime of coach Rob Hewitt, and the hopes of rival schools faded away as Germantown Friends squeezed all of its scorers into places four through 13.

Senior Eliza Lukens-Day came to the line after GA’s Kupsky, placing fourth in 19:54.87, and junior Alison Love took seventh in 20:43.89. Sophomore Brigit Andersson, who was playing on the soccer team at this time last year, was ninth in 20:58.47, and senior Isabel Goldstein was literally right behind her, 10th in 20:58.94. Sophomore Arielle Frank rounded out the team total, coming in 13th in 21:16.95.

These five were the only GFS runners in the race; the regular number two and seven runners for the Tigers were disqualified for wearing shorts of a different color from those of their teammates. Understandably, this stirred up GFS coaches and administrators, but it didn’t seem to bother the girls.

“They were told right at the starting line about the DQ’s and it didn’t rattle them,” Coach Hewitt said. “Their confidence was huge.”
PC’s Skinner, the 2010 champ, suffered from a chronic foot injury last season, but last weekend the senior went out with a flourish.
“I really love States; it’s a good time for the team to come out and support each other,” she said. “Health-wise, I’m feeling better this week [compared to the Inter-Ac meet on October 15], and the weather conditions were better, so I felt a lot of factors were going for me coming into this race.”

On the final significant hill on the course, called Flagpole, Skinner hadn’t climbed as strongly as usual at the Inter-Ac championships and was passed by Costarino late in the race. Last weekend she was the leader once again at the bottom of the hill, and this time she stayed ahead.

“Today my approach was to just let it happen the first two miles,” explained the senior, who said she’ll announce her college choice shortly. “Then I wanted to kill it as hard as I could going into the last mile and try to break away going up that hill. I was still a little nervous right to the end, because I know Jamie has such a great kick.

“I’ve become good friends with Jamie and I know the GA and the GFS girls,” she went on. “They’re great runners and I really enjoy racing with them.”

While the five GFS Tigers wound up within the same 10 places overall, the other schools had their athletes all spread out. Westtown was the
only team that put two runners across the line before GFS had its number five finish the race.

After Kupsky, the Germantown Academy scorers were junior Alyssa Bunim (14th; 21:18.36), freshman Maggie Hallahan (19th; 21:45.50), sophomore Kelsie Hermance (28th; 22:37.59), and senior Bridie Lawlor (35th; 22:50.67). For Penn Charter, Skinner was followed by fellow senior Ani Schug (23rd; 22:16.82), freshman McKenna Krall (26th; 22:32.43), senior Emily Diaz (33rd; 22:47.38), and freshman McKenzie Case (34th; 22:49.72).

The lone senior on the Springside Chestnut Hill squad, Maddi Hinchey, was the second finisher for the Lions, placing 15th overall in 21:23.20, and freshman Nicole Novo was 21st in 21:59.54. The other two scorers were junior Caroline Canning (32nd; 22:44.97) and freshman Brenna Isackman (42nd; 23:12.53).

While GFS abruptly lost two runners at the starting line, SCH knew in advance one of its best athletes would be unable to compete because of her age. Seventh-grader Emma Helstrom had to sit out this race after coming in second for her team and fourth overall the at the Girls Inter-Ac meet a week earlier.

There she produced a time of 20:32.60 in a steady rain that had made the footing treacherous in spots. Even if Helstrom had run the same time on a dry course at the Pa. Indy affair, that figure would’ve put her seventh, trailing George School’s Jerrica Bauer by less than a second. Bump the next three Lions down one spot and you’d still get a team score that would’ve placed the Lions second, rather than fourth.


1. PC Catie Skinner 19:27.69
2. SCH Jamie Costarino 19:41.96
3. GA Paige Kupsky 19:52.30
4. GFS Eliza Lukens-Day 19:54.87
5. WS Natalie McLaughlin 20:06.83
6. GS Jerrica Bauer 20:31.96
7. GFS Alison Love 20:43.89
8. EA Katherine Hong 20:50.76
9. GFS Brigit Andersson 20:58.47
10. GFS Isabel Goldstein 20:58.94
11. WS Lillian Domenick 21:01.80
12. ND Darcy Curtis 21:13.36
13. GFS Arielle Frank 21:16.95
14. GA Alyssa Bunim 21:18.36
15. SCH Maddi Hinchey 21:23.20
16. WS Alice McCartney 21:32.18
17. ND Siobhan Dougherty 21:37.13
18. FC Hannah Szapary 21:40.60
19. GA Maggie Hallahan 21:45.50
20. HS Monica Redfern 21:53.79

1. Germantown Friends 43
2. Germantown Academy 99
3. Notre Dame 108
4. Springside Chestnut Hill 110
5. Penn Charter 117
6. Westtown School 119
7. Hill School 161
8. Episcopal Academy 167
9. George School 225
10. Baldwin School 248
11. Agnes Irwin 285
12. Friends Central 295
13. Mercersburg Academy 335

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