Co-Captain Ben Bramhall ’07 and Dave Wilson ’09 led the Boys Varsity Cross Country team to a crushing win over their host, Northfield Mount Hermon, on Saturday. Head Coach Jon Stableford ’63 commented, “Our plan was to recognize that the top NMH runner would figure somewhere in the top five – perhaps as high as second, as he did against Exeter – but to keep the rest of their scoring five behind our own.” Andover did just that and more, securing the top four finishes and capturing the win by 30 points. After one of the hardest weeks of training the boys endured all season, the team prepared to run on the NMH course that it had competed on previous years. Upon arriving at NMH, however, Andover was informed that the race had been altered from its original format. The boys did not let this new obstacle deter them from the matter at hand. Instead, they did away with their earlier race plan and jogged a quick preview of the course. With the blast of the starting gun, NMH’s top runner Alex Boll took an early lead, with a pack of Andover runners on his heels. After completing a grassy loop, the boys ventured onto a wooded trail. Within the second mile the course left flat ground, bringing the beginning of the hills. Here, Co-Captain Bramhall and Wilson kicked by Boll to take command of the race. Wilson reflected, “Once I pushed past Boll just after the mile mark, he dropped way back.” Not long afterwards, Addison Godine ’07 and Eli Howe ’09 also surged by Boll to move into third and fourth place, respectively. Five minutes later, Evan Moore ’07 came into view of a now worn-out Boll. Within passing range on a steep downhill of the third mile, Moore tripped and fell. Less than a minute later, Co-Captain Ken Watari ’07 came to a similar fate at almost the same spot. Unfazed, the boys jumped back up and ran strong for the remainder of the 5K. Co-Captain Bramhall was first to emerge from the woods. After a burst of energy on the last grassy stretch, he flew over the finish line in 17:05. Although his time was slightly slower than usual, he was only seven seconds off the current record on the technically and physically challenging course. Wilson followed a few strides later in 17:11. Completing the top four, Godine and Howe raced strongly with times of 17:41 and 17:44, respectively. Boll crossed the line next, and not far behind, Moore displayed his resiliency and strength after rebounding from his fall, finishing sixth in 18:10. Alex Hugon ‘07 ran a commanding race and took seventh at 18:25, displacing four NMH runners. Two seconds behind the second boy from NMH, Co-Captain Watari finished with an incredible kick in 18:40 for ninth. Geoff Martin ’07 also had a strong performance, crossing the line in 18:59. Running his first varsity race, Declan Cummings ’09 had a spectacular performance, completing the course in 19:36. Andover was delighted with the outcome of the race, especially after the coaches purposefully brought the team to NMH feeling slightly fatigued from the grueling week of training. This Saturday, the boys will take on Deerfield Academy in the only home dual meet of the season. Once again, the coaches look forward to seeing what the team can do after another exhausting week of training.