In their first dual meet of the season, Captain Alex Fleury ’20, Jacob Buehler ’19, Sam Capobianco ’21, and Michael Turner ’20 placed second, third, fourth, and sixth respectively, assisting Andover Boys Cross Country in their 24-31 victory against Choate on Saturday.
According to Fleury, Capobianco, and Turner, the team remained in groups throughout the race as a strategy to outrun its opponents. Andover frequently applies this method of pack-running in its practices.
Fleury said, “Today was a successful day at Choate. The team did a really good job at sticking to the packs we have been running in at practice. It led us to finish in groups, which helped us outscore our opponents.”
Capobianco said, “During workouts, [Head Coach Jeff Domina] has us run in large groups so that it helps us learn to run together and push some slower [runners] up towards the top.”
Choate’s hilly terrain made it difficult for runners to maintain their energy and strength throughout the race, according to Capobianco and Hugo Solomon ’19.
Capobianco said, “There were two big hills on the course, one just before mile two and the other at mile two and a half. [The team] knew the hills were going to take a lot of energy out of us so we conserved some energy to make it up those hills and still be able to finish out the race strong.”
Solomon added, “This meet at Choate was pretty significant for a few reasons. First, the course itself was unique in its terrain, with a massive hill dominating the middle section of the course and a prolonged downhill section that stretched from the last 1000 meters or so to the end.”
Although Choate’s course presented a high level of difficulty for runners, Andover was well-prepared for the challenge, according to Fleury and Solomon.
Fleury said, “We work on the particular aspects of the course we will run on by doing similar terrains in Andover. This helps us anticipate and prepare for race day.”
Solomon said, “Especially [during] our Tuesday workout, we focused on hills, doing full half-mile reps up Heartbreak Hill in the [Cochran Bird Sanctuary].”
Additionally, in its practices leading up to the meet, Andover focused on maintaining pace and speed, according to Capobianco.
Capobianco said, “Before today’s race, we did a couple workouts where we were supposed to dial into our race paces. This allowed us to run today’s race more evenly paced. These workouts led to some outstanding performances [at the meet].”
Despite its strong performance at Choate, Andover continues to seek out ways to improve. In the future, the team hopes to strengthen its mental game, according to Fleury.
Fleury said, “I think the team can always improve on the mental aspect of the sport. If we tell ourselves that we can beat the kid right in front of us, then we will. Championships can be decided by very few points, and it all comes down to mental strength at the line.”
Overall, Andover’s triumph against Choate showcased both the team’s strong development thus far and its immense potential for the rest of the season, according to Fleury.
Fleury said, “This meet was special because Choate is a difficult course, yet we [ran] it so well. It tells us that we can run with any of these competitive teams out there, no matter the course. All we have to do is keep putting in the work at practice.”
Andover Boys Cross Country will race St. Paul’s at home this Saturday.
Editor’s Note: Jacob Buehler is a Sports Editor for The Phillipian. Hugo Solomon is an Associate Video Editor for The Phillipian.