BXC Wins Division I Championship for First Time in Six Years; Andover Places 3 in Top 7

Last Saturday, the Boys’ Cross Country team captured the New England Prep School Interscholastic Division I Championship title. After a sixyear drought, the squad ran with a vengeance, surpassing obstacles of injury, rough course conditions, and a strong performance by St. Paul’s. Co-Captain Ken Watari ’07 elaborated, “It was an exhilarating victory, and [close to the very end] we won by three points. I am delighted we prevailed for [Head] Coach [Jon Stableford] the year he fell ill.” Upon arriving at Exeter for the second weekend in a row, the boys were surprised to find the slightly altered course filled with behemoth puddles from the week’s heavy rains. However, the team ran wisely, dominating over the day’s series of unexpected twists. Co-Captain Ben Bramhall ’07 concurred, “Our strategy going into the race was to get three of the top five places. This did not play out [as] we got three in top seven, but the entire race went differently than we expected.” With the starter’s commands, a sea of 75 boys rushed from the starting line. Co-Captain Bramhall continued, “About 150 yards into the start we had to ford what you might call a lake on the course and turn left immediately after it. We decided to run where it was shallower and where there was less distance [in the water] to cover. Exeter went right through the deepest area. This proved costly as their number-one runner Graham Keggi rolled his ankle.” Once on dry land, St. Paul’s’ Pete Harrison headed the pack, a position he retained throughout the remainder of the course (he finished in 16:43). Right on his heels, Dave Wilson ’09, Co-Captain Bramhall and Addison Godine ’07 vied for position against a smattering of boys, a few of whom were from St. Paul’s. Co-Captain Watari recalled, “The first mile was really fast, all of Andover went through at around 5:05-5:20. I knew we had Exeter when I [Andover’s sixth runner] passed several of them around the second mile mark. However, I did not realize the battle with St. Paul’s was so close.” As the boys broke out of the final section of forest, it appeared as if Andover had the win within reach with five of its runners in the top ten. In the last kilometer, however, several competitors advanced forward in places: Andover’s first runner, Wilson, fell from second to fourth place (and crossed the line in 16:53). He was passed in the final straight by Northfield Mount Hermon’s Alex Boll and Ian Winthrop of Exeter. Despite his loss in place, Wilson ran incredibly. Co-Captain Bramhall agreed, “Wilson has really progressed into an amazing runner, and I expect more big things out of him in the future.” Not far behind, Co-Captain Bramhall and Godine finished sixth in 17:01 and seventh in 17:03 respectively. Sandwiched among a group of runners, four of whom were from Saint Paul’s, Eli Howe ’09 ran a spectacular race to cross the line eleventh (17:08). Next for Andover was Evan Moore ’07, who finished 18th in 17:30. Right on his heels, Co-Captain Watari ran with grit, ignoring excruciating pain from his spinal disk injury. He completed the race with the same time as Moore. Replacing Mike Discenza ’09, who was still hindered by an injury, Alex Hugon ’07 ran remarkably to finish 37th in 18:26. Coach Stableford summarized, “It was a solid run by an amazing Andover team so persistent in its ability to overcome losses to injury [that] we might adopt the phoenix as our mascot. What is most impressive through this undefeated season is that week after week the team managed to figure out how to win against some very different teams.”