Second Out of Six: “Pack Running” Proves Successful

Finishing second and sixth respectively, Ian Whittall ’14 and Ethan McIntosh ’15 spearheaded Andover Boys Cross Country’s second place finish at Northfield Mount Hermon on Saturday.

While Andover placed behind Phillips Exeter Academy, Whittall finished ahead of Exeter’s first runner and McIntosh crossed the line between Exeter’s fourth and fifth.

“Those finishes suggest the Exeter team might be vulnerable in a way it wasn’t a year ago,” wrote Head Coach Jeff Domina in an e-mail to The Phillipian.

Following McIntosh were Captain Scott Diekema ‘14 and Paul McGovern ‘15 with times of 18:06 and 18:08, respectively. Kailash Sundaram ’15, Tom Burnett ’15 and Chase Gottlich ’14 rounded out Andover’s top seven.

In addition to three other teams, Andover defeated NMH, a team that Andover fell to at Interschols last year.

Andover’s success in the race was due to its “pack running” strategy, which involves runners working together in groups of two or three to pass opponents. “The pace started out pretty fast, but our team managed to keep it steady and work together. I ran with Scott Diekema and Paul McGovern for a lot of the race. We worked together to pass people,” said McIntosh.

Andover’s camaraderie also played a key role in the team’s recent accomplishments.

“Morale is really good, especially compared to last year. It’s been a really tight group, even from the beginning. We’ve done a good job getting to know new runners and including them in the team,” said McIntosh.

“I think we are in a great spot to strike,” added Keton Kakkar ’15, a new runner, in an e-mail to The Phillipian. “As far as morale goes, the guys were incredibly supportive of each other after the race, much more so than it would have been back at my old team. I’m really glad to be here, and I think we can be very competitive this season.”

Looking forward, Andover Boys Cross Country will look to improve on endurance. After completing a long endurance run that varied from three to eight miles on Monday, the team tackled its toughest hill workout of the season on Tuesday. Following a four mile warm-up, the team completed five sets of hill repeats, or half mile “tempo” pieces, and finished with a three mile cooldown.

Andover will also try to enhance its racing strategy for future races. “Personally, I think I need to work on starting off faster and then settling into the pace. We should also be using each other to push ourselves ahead instead of settling in with each other,” said McIntosh.

With the advantage of familiarity with course, Andover will look to avenge its Interschols loss to Choate on Saturday at home.