by Tom Utescher
The thermometer strained to reach 40 degrees, and the wind added insult to injury last Saturday as a band of intrepid athletes from Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, Penn Charter, and Germantown Academy joined their fellow frigid competitors at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School for the 30th Pennsylvania Track Classic. Presented by the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association, the event is one of a number of large meets held annually on the final weekend of March.
In theory, these competitions herald the arrival of the spring season, but under last weekend’s conditions it was easy to forget that the vernal equinox had actually occurred a week earlier.
Before she ran her first race on Saturday, SCH junior Brooklynn Broadwater climbed up to the announcer’s booth to accept the award that recognized her as the PTFCA Female Athlete of the Year for 2015. At the Pennsylvania Indoor Championships three weeks earlier, the Blue Devils speedster had won the 200 and 400 meter dash, and had anchored both the winning 4 x 400 relay and the second-place 4 x 200 relay.
In her first multi-team outdoor showcase of 2015, the SCH 11th-grader lived up to her billing. She won the 300-meter hurdles by more than four seconds with a time of 43.87, then she won the 400 in 58.73. She would be named Female Performer of the Meet for her efforts.
The Devils actually went one-two in the 400 thanks to freshman Allie Kitchell, who was runner-up in 59.18. In one of the few events featuring preliminary heats before the finals, Kitchell won her heat and was second overall in the 200 meters. Unfortunately, a testy hamstring caused her to forego the final on this cold afternoon.
“It’s too bad, because she had a great time in the heats,” pointed out SCH assistant coach Maurice Broadwater (Brooklynn’s father). “The girl who had the fastest time in the heats also scratched for the final, because it was just too cold. Allie’s injury seemed to be in the lower hamstring, so she should be okay, but the trainer will decide that.”
Kitchell’s time in the heats, 26.03, was a little faster than the winning figure in the finals.
Penn Charter brought just two girls to the event, but both did well. Junior Emily Smith ran one of her best times as she came in third in the 800 meters (2:29.19), and sophomore Felicia Robinson travelled 34’ 6” in the triple jump to nab fourth place.
Another 10th-grader, Springside Chestnut Hill’s Elizabeth Jefferson, was sixth in the triple at 33’ 3.75”, and she was fourth in the long jump at 14’ 8”, one inch and one place ahead of junior teammate Essence Walden. Jamie Costarino, a Blue Devils senior, finished eighth in the 800 meters.
Although Germantown Academy was not heavily represented at the meet, the Patriots had sophomore Karlee Carminati come in sixth in the 1600 in 5:41.97, while junior Steven Combs was fourth in the boys’ 1600, clocking in at 4:56.01. One place behind Combs in the latter race was Harper Pollio-Barbee, a Penn Charter sophomore who finished in 4:56.43.
Longtime Penn Charter head coach Steve Bonnie noted, “We didn’t have a ton of kids here today, but every kid we brought medalled somehow, and I think that’s the first time we’ve done that. They all gave a good effort.”
Sophomore Akeem Blake won the high jump, clearing the bar at 6’ 2” while the runner-up needed more attempts to make the same height.
“Sean Foley had a PR in the shot put,” Coach Bonnie pointed out, “and we got PR’s from Felicia Robinson in the triple jump and Dylan Burnett in the high hurdles. Emily Brown had a good time in the 800, and I think that may have been a PR for her, as well.”
Foley, a junior, powered the shot out to 45’ 6” to place third, while Burnett, one year younger, came in fourth in the hurdles with his time of 15.93 seconds.
PC senior Jamir Brown had a lead of more than 10 meters after the first lap of the 800, but it was too much too soon. He faded a bit on the second circuit of the track, and ended up sixth in 2:09.01, still only four seconds behind the winner.
“Jamir ran fine, but he just went out a little too fast,” Bonnie said. “That also left him a little tired for the mile relay. I can’t say our guys were enthused about hanging around till the very end for the relay, but they went out and did it and got second.”
PC produced a time of 3:39.98 with the quartet of (in race order) senior Aaron Gardner, Brown, sophomore Pat McLaughlin, and senior Sean Fitzgerald.
With conditions like last Saturday’s, Bonnie explained, “It’s more the effort on the part of the kids that you’re looking for and hoping to get.”
SCH’s Broadwater concurred, “Today is not so much about the times, it’s more of a gut check. You see who has the character to come out and compete on a day like this. It also gave us an opportunity for our younger girls to get out here and gain some race experience before our league meets start.”