Cross Country Wins Invitational for Seventh Straight Year

The Boys Cross Country team jumpstarted their season last Saturday by winning the Canterbury Invitational for the seventh time in a row and the eighth first place finish in the last nine years. The team was extremely confident going into this first race, even though it knew that the competition would be better than ever. However, Coach Jon Stableford’s carefully crafted strategy assured Andover the win. After a highly successful race, Patrick Wolber ’11 described the course as, “One really long hill, with a few dips in the middle.” The hilly Canterbury course did not prevent the team from churning out top times, as almost all of its speed workouts have been on hills. The team planned to have two separate packs in the race, the first led by Mike Discenza ’09, and the second by Captain Eli Howe ’09. Discenza burst out of the gates, followed closely by Wolber, Charlie Ganner ’10 and top runners from half a dozen other schools. After the mile mark, it was clear that Andover had complete control over the race as no other team had two runners contending with the Andover top group. After the runners had returned from the hilly section of the course, Discenza and a runner from Taft had broken away from the rest of the pack to establish a two-man race. With about 600 meters left, Discenza broke away from the Taft runner. However, Discenza eased into the final straight away a little too lightly, and the Taft runner surged towards him. Discenza held him off to win a photo-finish race by 0.3 seconds, with a final time of 16:49.25. Both Ganner and Wolber were not far behind, with Ganner finishing fourth with a time of 17:02 and Wolber at fifth with a time of 17:06. Tim McLaughlin ’11 and Eli Howe also finished in the top ten, with McLaughlin finishing at 17:28 and Captain Howe at 17:36, securing a blowout win for Andover. The team’s final score was 29. Although the veterans seemed to dominate this first race, the most phenomenal finish came from newcomer James Hamilton ’12, running his first ever varsity race. He was able to pass six older runners from other teams in the last six hundred meters, out kicking two runners in the last ten meters. He finished at 18:06, a phenomenal finish for a freshman. For his incredible first race, Hamilton was awarded the log shirt at Monday’s practice, an award bestowed on the athlete who ran the best race the past weekend. While the top seven runners were driving down to Canterbury, eighteen other members of the team ran a time trial before breakfast on Saturday morning. Phil Hofer ’10, led the way and won the time trial with an impressive time of 18:10. His excellent race shows that he will return to a top position on the team after a long hard fight with asthma. Following Hofer were Alex Cope ’09, Jack Walkovik ’09 and Declan Cummings ’09, all three being Interschol veterans and key leaders on this year’s team. At this point in the season, the team looks to be strong and prepared for anything that may come its way. Andover looks to improve more this week as it prepares for the Andover Invitational this Saturday.