The Boys Varsity Cross Country team captured an admirable second place finish at the NEPSTA Division I Championships at Taft last Saturday. Despite an excellent final race by Captain Sean Hamilton ’06, Andover was unable to match Exeter’s toughness, and the final score saw Exeter winning with 40 points to Andover’s second place of 87 points. Choate placed third with only a one point difference between the two teams. The Taft course was relatively flat, with a quick start. After the first 800 meters, athletes faced a steady uphill followed by a steady downhill piece that looped back to the foot of the hill. This loop was repeated before runners retraced the start back to the finish line. The course was almost all grassy terrain, making spikes a necessity, and previous rains made some parts muddy and slippery. A poor start to the race found the Andover runners squeezed from both sides and unexpectedly stuck behind an enormous pack of athletes. The beginning of the race proceeded slowly for Andover, as runners struggled to break through the mass of people. This unfortunate start to the race would not stifle the team’s performance, as many Andover runners tenaciously fought their way to the front pack. As the runners climbed the first steady incline, Captain Hamilton gradually caught up to the front pack that included a group of athletes that had finished before Hamilton in previous dual meets. Also in good position was Addison Godine ’07. Up the first hill, Andover’s three other top runners, Ben Bramhall ’07, Kentaro Watari ’07, and Dave Wilson ’09, fought to improve their respective positions. Although most Andover runners struggled through the course, Captain Hamilton finished his high school cross country career with a fantastic race. Sprinting to the line at 16:47, Hamilton finished in fourth place overall. Andover’s second runner, Watari, finished in 15th place overall at a commendable 17:24. Godine followed only tenths of a second behind, also finishing at 17:24 in 16th place. The young Varsity team saw three ninth graders competing, all who ran excellent races and gained experience for years to come. Dave Wilson ’09 finished in 22nd place with a time of 17:31. Mike Discenza ’09 followed in 30th place with a time of 17:45 to round out Andover’s scoring top five. Ben Bramhall ’07, who was predicted to capture a top 10 finish, came in at 17:52 in 36th place. After the slow start, Bramhall was unable to get through the crowd. In 41st place, Eli Howe ’09 rounded out Andover’s Varsity with a time of 18:05. Although the Interschols results did not turn out as anticipated, overall the team had a fantastic season. Head Coach Jonathan Stableford said of Andover’s performance: “Saturday’s races did not work out as we had hoped, but certainly not for a lack of trying. He continued, “We just had a bad day. Nothing that happened on Saturday can diminish the wonderful season we had, putting together undefeated records for Varsity and JV in dual meets, all with a team of newcomers led by a few very good experienced runners. “ The team is content with their season and looks forward to next fall.