by Tom Utescher
In one of the last regular-season Inter-Ac League dual meets, the cross country squads from Penn Charter and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy clashed last Tuesday at Belmont Plateau, which will be the site of the Inter-Ac Championships and the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Championships later this month.
The PC Quakers are already quite familiar with this Fairmount Park circuit, since it’s where they regularly host their home meets. With senior Ben Szuhaj winning the meet in 17 minutes and 28 seconds and with all their other scorers finishing among the top seven overall, the Quakers prevailed easily, 20-41.
SCH junior Will Concannon, third in 17:59, led a group of three Blue Devils who made it into the top 10.
The victory leveled Penn Charter’s league record at 2-2, with the other win coming against Episcopal Academy. There was a close loss to Haverford School for the Quakers (27-32), and the other setback came against defending champ and current league leader Malvern Prep. Charter graduated a large senior contingent from last year’s team, but some younger runners have stepped up to support current senior Szuhaj, who is the defending Inter-Ac champion in the 3200-meter event on the track.
Springside Chestnut Hill has just one relatively inexperienced senior on its roster, and the Blue Devils have not been able to secure a dual meet victory in the league this fall. Concannon has finished second or third in most of these events and sophomore Noah Chandler has been showing steady improvement, but there’s just not much depth in the program right now. For last Tuesday’s tilt at Belmont, an injury sidelined sophomore Chris Markos, who has been a regular scorer for the squad.
In their final league dual meets this week, PC faces Germantown Academy, and SCH must tackle Malvern.
PC’s Szuhaj glided to the finish line unchallenged last Tuesday, and sophomore Harper Pollio-Barbee pushed himself to a new personal record to place second in 17 minutes, 48 seconds. After Concannon came across for Springside Chestnut Hill, junior Thomas Freitag took fourth place for PC in 18:24, and fifth went to Chandler of the Blue Devils, in 18:49.
The meet outcome was no longer in doubt once the next four finishers all appeared wearing Penn Charter singlets. Completing the official scoring for the Quakers were the team’s junior co-captains, Jonathan Weiss (sixth; 19:52), and Gordon Robertson (seventh; 20:00). Rounding out the Quakers’ top seven, in eighth and ninth place overall, were freshman Blaise Ciarrocchi (20:04) and sophomore Joshua Patton (20:05).
Rounding out the top 10 was SCH junior Robert Hass (20:41), who is co-captain of the Blue Devils along with Concannon. Sophomore Jamie Alden was not far behind in 11th place at 20:58, but the Devils had to wait awhile to see their fifth scorer. Freshman Thomas Huggett completed the team tally, coming in 19th in 22:12.