Soon to repeat as Inter-Ac League champion, Germantown Academy junior Robert DiDonato is running entirely alone as he heads into the final mile of the course. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

In 2018, Malvern Prep repeated as Inter-Ac League cross-country champion as they bested the boys of Penn Charter by a single point, 57-56. In this year’s league championship meet, held on Oct. 21 at its customary venue on Belmont Plateau in Fairmount Park, another Main Line school edged a different team from this area.

Germantown Academy had junior Robert DiDonato win the race for the second year in a row, but his Patriots squad wound up two points behind 2019 champ Episcopal Academy, 47-49. Unchallenged in this race, the 11th grader cruised in with a time of 16 minutes and 15.90 seconds. He had established a new personal record of 15:15 at the beginning of the month at Lehigh University’s Paul Short Invitational.

GA also picked up a second-place individual finish courtesy of senior Matt Sandifer (16:57.50), while Episcopal’s first finisher, senior Owen Maier, came in third in 17:17.20. The EA Churchmen ran very well as a team. Their last scorer came in 19th, just one minute and 33 seconds behind Maier, and Episcopal’s sixth man secured 20th place.

Malvern Prep, who had junior Colin Hess wind up fourth (17:18.30), took third place among the teams by outpacing Haverford School, 76-81. The Fords were led by junior A.J. Sanford, who claimed fifth place overall (17:20.40).

Springside Chestnut Hill Academy had come in sixth in the league for several seasons, but last week, the Blue Devils moved up to fifth as they got a top-10 finish from senior Matt Miles (10th; 18:12.50). SCH scored 120 points to PC’s 123. Senior Zion Weeks led the Quakers with a time of 18:30.60 that netted him 15th place.

Overall, the weather was favorable for cross-country running, perhaps a tad warm in the direct sunlight, but cool in the heavy shade of the wooded section of the course.

Senior Matt Miles secured a top-10 finish to lead Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Completing the first loop of the course just under a mile into the race, DiDonato was 11 seconds ahead of fellow Patriot Sandifer, who in turn led the runner behind him by nine seconds. DiDonato was completely alone coming out of the wooded section of the course with a mile remaining. With some major late-season races still on the docket and no one threatening him at all, he finished up in maintenance mode rather than pushing for an outstanding time. Last spring at the Inter-Ac track championships, DiDonato won the 800-, 1600- and 3200-meter events.

After the first five runners finished, GA and Episcopal athletes alternated in the next four spots. In seventh and ninth place, the Patriots had sophomores Alex Badami (18:01.30) and Ethan Feigles (18:08.90), respectively, while the Churchmen claimed sixth and eighth place.

With his 10th-place result, SCH’s Miles became the first Blue Devils runner in the top 10 since 2016, when Noah Chandler placed third in his senior season.

Just after PC number one Weeks finished 15th, SCH senior Marco Goldberg arrived 16th in 18:35.20. A Malvern runner came next, then PC senior Jess Anderson secured a place among the top 20, crossing the line 18th in 18:44.40.

In 19th and 20th, Episcopal positioned the last of its five scorers and also its sixth man. The number seven for the Churchmen, sophomore Will Konopka, came in 29th (19:27.80) just before GA’s number five, freshman Chaz Murgia, locked in the Patriots’ final score, as he finished 30th overall in 19:35.30.

The other three scorers for SCH were sophomores Sammy Meyer (28th; 19:24.40), Ollie Moscow (19:39.60) and Harris Proctor (34th; 19:55.70). PC’s team score was completed by junior Drew Gillespie (24th; 19:05.30), sophomore Liam McCaffrey (31st; 19:38.40) and junior Aaron Zea-Rincon (35th; 19:58.90).

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