With an Exeter runner nipping at his heels, Ian Whittall ’14 of Andover Boys Cross Country blazed down the course in pursuit of his archrival, Northfield Mount Hermon runner Mohamed Hussein ’14, during last Saturday’s Interschols race.
In the matchup between the two, Hussein has taken first place the past two encounters. Although Whittall lost yet again to Hussein, Whittall’s own second place finish helped to propel Andover to an impressive second place overall finish.
With 14 teams of competitive runners converging on the course at St. Paul’s on Saturday, Andover, which lost the majority of its races by narrow margins this season, was able to outrun 12 teams, losing only to Exeter.
Ethan McIntosh ’15 wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “We were mainly concerned about Choate and St Paul’s because they packed up well earlier in the season and defeated us in dual meets.”
The pack strategy has been key in Andover’s strong races this season. In addition to cohesive team work, Andover incorporated a quick-paced start into its Interschols tactical approach. An uncommon technique, Andover employed it in this race due to the large amount of runners leaving the starting line at once, which effectively seperated potential opponent packs early in the race.
“In a big race like Interschols, it’s difficult to run in groups. However, we did have a pack of four runners for the opening mile or two,” wrote Ralph Skinner ’16 in an email to The Phillipian.
Whittall led the Andover Boys for one last time, and ran with the leading runners from the other teams. Despite dropping first place to Hussein, Whittall finished not far behind with a time of 16:12, only six seconds behind his opponent and one second short of breaking the course record that stood before the race.
McIntosh finished closely after Whittall, crossing the finish line in seventh place overall, and second for Andover, with a time of 16:36. Captain Scott Diekema ’14 dug deep for the last mile after fighting hard during the first two to finish in 24th overall with a time of 17:19.
Skinner and Paul McGovern ’15 finished with times of 17:31 and 17:32 respectively, with Skinner finishing in 29th and McGovern finishing in 30th overall. Kailash Sundaram ’15 and Tom Burnett ’15 also finished strongly, and they rounded out the Andover team with times of 17:50 and 17:53 respectively.
“We managed to hold off those teams because of some amazing individual races,” wrote McIntosh.
Interschols marked the end of a very productive season for the team which saw great improvement among the runners.
“Interschols was a great day for the team. The guys peaked at just the right time and were able to deliver a brilliant performance. They worked toward that race throughout the fall, and many of them had trained all summer, too,” wrote Coach Jeff Domina in an email to The Phillipian.
“The second-place finish was fantastic. I’m really proud of them,” he added.