Springside Chestnut Hill’s Noah Chandler (foreground) runs ahead of fellow senior Harper Pollio-Barbee of Penn Charter in the final meters of the sprint medley relay. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

In years past, there had been a lot of activity at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s long-running annual track invitational, which began its existence as the Chestnut Hill Academy Relays and is always staged on the first Saturday in April.

There was a much more relaxed atmosphere at the 2017 gathering last weekend, as several schools which were scheduled to attend skipped the event (possibly due to the chilly temperatures) and only Penn Charter and the Church Farm School turned up to race with the host Blue Devils.

This year’s meet opened with Church Farm winning the 4 x 100 meter relay in a time of 44.7 seconds, while SCH placed second in 49.4 with a foursome made up of (in race order) sophomore Peter Kapp, senior Evan Krawczuk, junior Bashir Shakir and senior Justin Telemaque.

Penn Charter, the runner-up in the last three Inter-Ac championship meets, sat out this race, then swung into action in the sprint medley relay, which featured a 400-meter opening leg, two 200-meter segments, and an 800-meter anchor section.

The winner, in two minutes, 47.5 seconds, was Springside Chestnut Hill, with sophomore Santiago Camara, junior Earl Patterson, sophomore Robert Gentile and senior Noah Chandler. Second, well ahead of a Church Farm foursome, came the Charter quartet of senior Pat McLaughlin, juniors Matt Barkann and Kieran Smith, and senior Harper Pollio-Barbee in 2:48.2.

Represented in the 4 x 800 by sophomore Luke Greenberg, freshmen Max Scheuerman and Matthew Miles, and Krawczuk, the Blue Devils ran along with Church Farm early in the race. The Griffins began to open up a gap later on and won in 9:58.1 to SCH’s 10:14.7, while PC gave this race a pass.

The Blue Devils’ Gentile won the 100-meter dash in 11.4 seconds as two Church Farm sprinters took the next two spots, and in a two-man 1600 between Charter’s Pollio-Barbee and a Church Farm harrier, the Quakers senior won comfortably in 5:11.3.

The meet featured competition in four of the five official field events held in the Inter-Ac, and senior Akeem Blake, prominent in the jumps throughout his Penn Charter career, won both the high jump (6’6″) and the triple jump (41’2.5″). He finished third in the long jump (18’7.5), where the Church Farm Griffins took the top two places and had a winning jump of 20’7.25″.

Blake’s brother Akeel, a freshman, was runner-up in the triple jump 40’8.75″), and in the high jump second place went to PC sophomore Patrick Gabor (6’4″). SCH won the shot put thanks to senior Blake Fennessey (39’0.5″), and the next two places belonged to Quakers seniors Billy Costello (38’5.75″) and Harold Anderson (34’9.5″).

On the track, Akeel Blake led off for Charter in the 4 x 200, and with Gabor, Smith, and Marcellus Poland following, the Quakers won in 1:36.4. Springside Chestnut Hill was second (1:41.8) with Camara, Greenberg, freshman Trevor Meyer and Patterson, and Church Farm was third.

A distance medley relay was dangled in front of the visiting teams, but neither would bite, and the Blue Devils ran the race unopposed. Scheuerman, (1200 meters), senior Sam Burtnik (400), Meyer (800), and Miles (1600) strolled to victory in 16:19.6, just six minutes off the school record.

In the 4 x 400, the only relay run in official Inter-Ac meets, Penn Charter won in 3:40.72 courtesy of Akeel Blake, Pollio-Barbee, McLaughlin, and Poland. The Griffins were second in 3:42.7, while Greenberg, Krawczuk, Shakir and Patterson brought the Blue Devils home third in 4:13.9.

Penn Charter did not enter the final event of the morning, a “California” distance medley consisting of two laps of the track broken down into two 100-meter legs, a 200, and then a 400. Telemaque, Gentile, Camara, and Chandler won it for SCH in 1:42.9, with Church Farm second in 1:59.3.