by Tom Utescher

In addition to adjusting to graduation losses, the boys’ cross country team at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy has faced injury issues with two of its better returning athletes, and the 2013 campaign has gotten off to a rocky start.

Following a loss in their opening dual meet to Inter-Ac League rival Episcopal Academy, the Blue Devils fell to host Phil-Mont Christian Academy last Friday afternoon, 19-36.

The Devils had been at home against EA, and the fact that they were able to host the meet was a bit of good news in itself, since extensive ongoing renovations to their outdoor athletic facilities had left them without a home course last season.

As a team, SCH placed sixth at the 2012 Inter-Ac League championships. Current senior Graham Allen, a middle-distance track runner who has experienced some injury problems over longer distances, is easing into cross country activity this fall. In addition, junior veteran Ben Dlin is on the DL for the Blue Devils, according to head coach Paul Hines.

Phil-Mont Christian, which finished third in the Constitution Division at the 2012 Bicentennial League championships, had only run in one scrimmage this fall prior to Friday’s meet with the Blue Devils. Kayin Scanterbury, who came in fourth at the Bicentennials last year as an 11th-grader, led the Falcons to victory over SCH in his official senior season debut.

He rounded the course in 18 minutes, 28 seconds, and close on Scanterbury’s tail was SCH sophomore Will Concannon, who checked in second at 18:35. After that, though, there was little sense of drama as Phil-Mont captured the next four places to complete its team score with 19 points.

Clinching the meet victory for the Falcons was the quartet of sophomore Isaac Stemler (3rd; 19:24), junior Nathan Bierema (4th; 19:47), and seniors Micah Lieberman (5th; 19:50) and Jordan Sudlow (6th; 20:33).

Next, it was Springside Chestnut Hill’s turn to send a string of runners across the line, giving the Blue Devils places seven through 10 to lock in their team score at 36 points. Jamie Alden, a freshman, was the second SCH finisher, landing seventh overall in 20:43. In his wake came sophomore Robert Hass (8th; 20:56), freshman Chris Markos (9th; 21:11), and senior Harrison Tracy (10th; 21:27).

Conditions were relatively pleasant for the competitors; thankfully; the hot weather that smothered the region through midweek had broken the night before the meet. Because Phil-Mont does not have enough girls to form a female franchise, a few are running in some boys’ meets. On Friday, sophomore Katie Guerra, younger sister of former Falcons standout Ryan Guerra, unofficially finished 14th overall in 22:47.

Although injuries have kept some of SCH’s veterans from performing, Coach Paul Hines is pleased with the way that some of his younger Blue Devil runners are coming along. Crunching some numbers after the race at Phil-Mont, he noted that if you scored the meet just between the freshmen and sophomores competing for the two schools, the 19-36 final score would have been reversed in favor of the visitors.

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