Pomfret wins the Battle for Route 44 for the third consecutive year.
The crowd in Lewis Gymnasium grew larger and larger as the score racked up in the girls volleyball game. Everyone was there to see the final competition in the Battle for Route 44 — our daylong tournament with our rivals the Millbrook Mustangs. When the match began, the day was still anyone’s game. But as the match progressed, the results of events across the Hilltop rolled in. A win from girls varsity soccer and news of the girls and boys cross country victories at the NEPSTA Division III Cross Country Championships helped the Griffs pull ahead of the Mustangs, earning Pomfret the Peck/Pulling Trophy for the third consecutive year. When the Pomfret volleyball team ultimately swept the match with wins in three straight sets, the crowd rushed the court to celebrate their victory and the three-peat.
Wins earlier in the day from the boys JV and thirds soccer, girls JV soccer, and JV volleyball teams helped contribute to the 8-4 triumph. It was a school-wide effort to secure the victory and to host Millbrook School on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The fans from both teams were treated to some great athletics as well as a delicious meal in Parsons Lodge. As fans traveled across the Hilltop to cheer on the Griffins, they were met with spirited banners and signs that poked fun at our competition.
At the all-school dinner the night before the big game was served, athletic teams seated together paused their big game-planning chatter for the Alumni Association’s Athletic Hall of Fame induction. Caroline Murphy ’06 was inducted for earning twelve Pomfret varsity letters in soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse and playing four seasons of hockey and one season of lacrosse at Yale. Josh Wildes ’04 — who returned to the Hilltop as a math teacher three years ago and now heads the department — was honored for his success as a four-year New England wrestling champion and a top-ten national wrestler while he was a Pomfret student.
After the dinner plates were cleared, the atmosphere in the room shifted. The overhead lights were dimmed as thematic red lights illuminated the Dining Hall. John Cena’s song “The Time is Now” was blasted from the speakers as Head of School Tim Richards and Director of Athletics and Afternoon Programs Mo Gaitán entered dressed in wigs and Pomfret jerseys. They jumped onto a table and pumped up the crowd. While carrying the Peck/Pulling Trophy, Richards gave a rousing speech. “I’m a lifelong teacher and believe that you should be learning all the time,” he said. “But there is a famous quote about learning more from losing than you do from winning. And, tomorrow, I don’t want you students to learn a thing!” He then called upon Eli Bitman ’25 and EJ Ehikioya ’26 to read The Griffin’s Call: A Millbrook Fable, written by English Teacher and Writer-in-Residence Dan Freije and illustrated using AI-generated artwork prompted by Science Department Head Josh Lake.
The Athletic Council kept the excitement going at the pep rally, and the fanfare continued at the bonfire that evening and throughout the next afternoon, as cheering squads went from game to game, supporting the Griffins from the sidelines.
“I’m so proud of our students — both on and off the field — in our convincing victory over the Mustangs,” said Head of School Tim Richards. “Whether participating in a game or being fantastic hosts and spectators, they carried themselves with dignity and class.”
A special thanks to Millbrook, who made the long journey east — along Route 44 — and showed great sportsmanship. We cannot wait to face them again next year and defend our title in the fourth annual Pomfret / Millbrook Day.