On February 11, Andover Nordic traveled to Gould Academy in Bethel, ME., for the NEPSAC Championship races. At 5:45 in the morning, the team began its journey North and did not return to campus until 8:30 p.m. after a long and exhausting day.
The championship consisted of two events for both boys and girls, the first of which was a 6.5 kilometer classic race with individual starts that took place in the morning. The second race was a 12 kilometer relay in which each team put forth a team of four members. Overall, the boys placed sixth out of nine teams while the girls placed fourth out of six teams.
The conditions were the best that the team had seen this season, despite the fact that the temperature was close to zero at the start of the first event. The wide, well-groomed course had plenty of snow and there was little wind to sap the team’s strength.
The team suffered from sickness. Many key racers, including Isaac Newell ’18, Parker Tope ’16 and Claudia Leopold ’18 did not race. Regarding the many setbacks the team has had this season, Head Coach Keith Robinson said, “I think we’ve just gotten it done by having good spirit and everyone being willing to step up and do whatever they are able to.”
Everything came down to the championship race for Carmen Bango ’16. With two victories from past races, she had high expectations to live up to from her coach, her teammates and onlookers from rival schools.
She proved that she deserved to be number one in the NEPSAC by winning first place in the event with a time of 21:00.1, leaving the other 29 skiers who raced far behind her.
Bango said, “Crossing the finish line, I didn’t know if I had won or not because it was an individual start, but I did know that I had done my best for the day to ski hard and stay focused during my race.”
Olivia LaMarche ’16 finished second for Andover in 16th with a final time of 26:47.2.
LaMarche said, “To be honest, during the race I was thinking about my biology test I had the next day. We are learning about the circulatory and respiratory circuits, so I was thinking about what was happening in the body as I raced.”
Lila Brady ’18, who raced in her second ever race, finished just three places behind in 19th, and had a final time of 28:10.8. Brady said, “I didn’t have a time goal; I just wanted to give it everything I had. Crossing the finish line felt amazing because I knew that all my training and practice were helping me get to this point.”
Captain Paxton Hyde ’15 led the boys once again, finishing 22nd among the 43 skiers. He had a final time of 21:37.4. Rex Noble ’18 followed close behind in 29th with a final time of 22:52.7.
Tevis Vitale ’16 said, “During the race I was really just focused on keeping a good steady pace on the uphills and not slipping out. Also, since I was just recovering from a sickness, I was trying to monitor my output to make sure that I didn’t go anaerobic for too long during the race.” Vitale came in third for Andover and placed 40th with a final time of 29:23.1.
The boys could not field four racers and were forced to sit out the relay in the afternoon. The Girls relay team finished in fourth out of six teams with a final time of 44:44.1.
Next week, Andover Nordic will compete in the Lakes Region Championship for its last race of the season.