The Big Blue Boys Track team held off visiting Reading High School last Thursday for a nail-biting six-point victory. The Boys were cautious going into the competition, knowing that there would be trouble as sprinters O’Shea Galan ’04 and Temi Devers ’05, and distance king Josh Wolfe ’04 were unable to race. “When I found out it was Reading High School…ouch,” said Coach David Callum, “I knew right away we had our work cut out for us. Reading has been known as a track powerhouse among public schools for decades.” Callum’s premonition proved true. Andover’s poor handoff in the 4 x 100m Relay started the meet off on the wrong foot. Luckily, Callistus Onyiuke ’05 and Josh Barclay ’05 took second and third in the high jump to help to ease some of the Big Blue’s pain. However, the Big Blue soon found themselves singing the blues once again, as John Freker ‘04 finished second in the 1500m, while Sam duPont ’04 placed third in the 110m hurdles, both only a hair behind his opponent. Andover regained some points in the long jump, with Tolu Wusu ’04 taking first place. But while David Sheldon ’04 managed second – by a mere inch – he injured himself on his second jump, putting his ability to race in question. The 400m proved to be the most crucial event for the Big Blue. Standout Knef King ’04 clocked at 51.1sec and Kojo Degraft-Hanson ’05 finished at 51.4 to take first and second, each posting a personal best and spotting Andover a vital 3-point lead. Reading answered with a sweep of the 100m, returning momentum to the Rockets as the scoreboard read 50-41, Reading. While Wusu took his expected first place in the triple jump, Reading took the second and third spots, leaving Andover one point behind. Unfortunately, bigtime thrower Anwell Lanfranco ’04 finished second in the shotput and allowed Reading increase its lead. Freshman Ben Bramhall ’07 showcased his talent in the 800m, running a fantastic 2:04.6 to take first, with Jon Hillman ’05 pulling into second shortly behind at 2:06.1. Andover’s success continued as Tyler Simms ’04 and duPont took second and third in the 300m hurdles, both at 43.8sec. The Big Blue expected to lose big in the 200m, but Sheldon, who decided at the last minute to run despite his injury, came in a close second at 23.9sec, while Greg Hsu ’06 fought his way into an unexpected third place at 24.1sec, closing the six-point gap to three. Chris Donais ’05 had a sensational run in the 3000m at 9:42.2 to win the event, and Sean Hamilton ’06 took a surprising second place at 10:03, giving Andover a three point lead. But, once again, Reading had an answer. The Rockets took first and third in the discuss throw, while the Blue’s Joseph O’Hern ’07 finished second, placing the Rockets back on top by three. Yet, in the end, Andover had one more counterpunch than Reading, delivering the final blow in the 4 x 400m relay. Degraft-Hanson, duPont, Adam Kapor ’04, and King smoked their Rocket opponents by more than five seconds, sealing a narrow victory for the Blue. Vaulter Parag Khandelwal ’06 said afterwards, “Though Andover overall was a superior team, Reading provided much resistance with many consistent athletes, but despite their larger numbers, we still won because of the vast depth of our team.” Indeed, despite the nerve-wracking flip-flopping score, the Blue tracksters managed to bite back. The Boys now prepare for a large four-team competition this Saturday at home on Sorota Track.
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