Boys XC Defeats Deerfield Despite Vicious Terrain; Final Sprint Propels Ganner ’10 to First Place

After a gutsy pass of Deerfield’s top runner in the last quarter mile of the race, Andover’s Charlie Ganner ’10 finished first overall with a time of 14:14, helping to secure a 21-39 victory over Deerfield last Saturday. Perhaps the largest challenge for Andover was the rain, which created an extremely difficult course. With Deerfield’s route only 2.71 miles long and relatively flat, Andover knew it would be a fast race, but the team was unable to run as well as they had hoped because of the restricting conditions. Despite the sloppy weather, Andover was excited because this race marked the first time all season that the team was at full health, with Mike Discenza ’09 returning from injury and Nate Thomas ’08 at full strength. The race began with a crowded field with both the JV and varsity teams starting at the same time. After several meters of bumping and jostling, the varsity runners from both teams separated themselves from the rest of the pack and set a strong pace. Ganner and Eli Howe ’09 led for Andover, along with Deerfield’s top runner, Anthony Shurz ’08. Shurz had defeated both Ganner and Howe at the Canterbury Invitational earlier in the season, and Andover’s top runners were seeking revenge. The three stayed together for the majority of the race and provided a very tight finish. At the one-mile mark, only three Deerfield runners remained within the midst of the front Andover pack, and it was clear that Andover would be able to hold off the tough Deerfield squad. Discenza, who was running in his first varsity race since the Canterbury Invitational, was supposed to hold back in fifth or sixth position for Andover, taking his recovery slow in preparation for Exeter next week. But when he descended from the track, he looked very strong, and Coach Jon Stableford gave him the go-ahead to move ahead, where he overcame Deerfield’s second-fastest runner to finish fourth overall. Tim McLaughlin ’11 also managed to move up in the final section of the race, as did Nate Thomas and Jim Ricker ’09. The three-way race for first turned into a race between Ganner and Shurz as Howe fell behind toward the finish. Ganner powered his way into the final section and convincingly took control in the final quarter mile to finish first in 14:14, four seconds ahead of Shurz. Howe took third in 14:26 with Discenza fourth in 14:51. Deerfield’s Belcher then finished in 15:00, followed closely by Andover’s McLaughlin, Thomas, and Ricker Next week, Andover will take on rival Exeter in a battle of league powerhouses. Each team has only suffered one loss this season.