Splashing through mud, Michael Turner ’20 outsprinted his competitor by a single second to secure 10th place with a time of 18:10 against Phillips Exeter Academy on Saturday. Despite Turner’s win, Andover Boys Cross Country fell 20-41, giving them a 3-2 season record.
Leading up to the race, the team prepared for the flat and wet conditions of the Exeter course through track workouts and strategizing during practice, according to Turner and Sam Lasater ’21.
Turner said, “We have been doing a lot of workouts on the track to work on our speed during races since our last two races of the season are flat. Since the courses are flatter, we haven’t been doing much hills. Our track workout, especially on windy days, did help us feel more prepared for the bad weather at Exeter.”
“We felt about as prepared as we could be for the rough conditions. We were aware of the mud going in and planned for the best strategies to run it. We’re lucky to have a difficult course with lots of elevation change at Andover and felt prepared for the flat after running in far more difficult terrain,” added Lasater.
Despite being faced with wind, puddles, and mud, Andover went into the race with a positive attitude and persevered through the finish, according to Turner and Riley Gillis ’19.
“Before the race we tried to treat the bad weather as a good thing, because it would help get rid of home course advantage and would be perfect [personal record] running condition. A friend and I made a joke about the puddle making the race like a 5K steeplechase, a 3K race with a moat and barrier. We both always wanted to run one, so that actually got us partially excited to run through the puddles,” said Turner.
Gillis wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “The course began with a foot-deep puddle and only got damper and muddier from there, but even in 55 mile-per-hour wind, our team put every ounce of strength we had into the race. We dug our spikes into the mud and used the flat course to our advantage, pushing our bodies to the max and giving the race everything we had until we crossed, or in some cases slipped past, the finish line.”
Head Coach Jeff Domina and Ellerman Mateo ’21 remarked on the outstanding performances of Captain Alex Fleury ’20 as well as several other runners for achieving personal records.
In an email to The Phillipian, Domina wrote, “Though the boys lost, they ran hard against a formidable Exeter team. Up front, Alex Fleury finished second in an impressive time of 16:54. Despite the conditions, Ben Fu ’21 and Harry Chanpaiboonrat ’21 ran PR’s.”
Mateo added, “The Andover runner that really stood out was Alex Fleury, obviously, but also Michael Turner, who was coming back from a stomach bug, and he pushed himself hard on Saturday to give the team some edge. He is a terrific runner who has run faster as the season progressed and always is willing to give it his all when racing.”
In preparation for Interschols on Saturday, the team hopes to remain healthy and build team camaraderie, according to Lasater.
Lasater said, “This last week before Interschols we are trying our best to stay healthy and well rested. We’re continuing to train with extra emphasis on camaraderie and teamwork, and we will go to Interschols as a team, not as individuals. We’re very excited to have the opportunity to face teams we raced earlier in the season and to race against so many talented runners, since good competition makes for a good race. I know we will give it everything we have as a team and end the race proud of what we accomplished.”