In Andover’s dual meet on Saturday, Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH) runner Alex Ehrenthal finished in 15:19 minutes, breaking the previous Andover course record of 15:40 minutes. The record was previously held by Pablo Durana ’02, who set it in 2001. For Andover, Chris Ratliffe PG’20 finished in 15:42 minutes, just two seconds off of the previous course record.
Captain Alex Fleury ’20 said, “I knew going into the race that Alex [Ehrenthal] was a very strong runner. He had been teammates with our top runner, Chris, during their time at Concord-Carlisle High School. Alex is a very strong runner who had proven himself in races earlier this season, so I knew he had a chance to get our record. He smashed it by 21 seconds, which is by far the fastest time ever run on the [Andover] course. It shows you how strong he is, and that he definitely deserved to break the record.”
With Andover’s top seven runners finishing in under 18 minutes, the team won 23-37 at its first home meet of the season. This win marked the team’s third dual meet victory, putting its dual meet record at 3-0.
Ratcliffe and Fleury led Andover’s top seven and both finished in under sixteen minutes, and Andover’s third through seventh runners finished within 35 seconds of each other. According to Ratcliffe, the interchangeability of Andover’s fifth through seventh runner adds to the teams depth.
“Our greatest strength is in our ability and [the] depth of our team. There’s no real gaps or drop-offs between say, our five, six, and seven runner. So that really allows us to hold each other accountable and maybe if one person is having an off day then it’s like, ‘Ok, next man up, the next man up,’ so they can sort of fill in that role,” said Ratcliffe.
The team has been focusing on strengthening its packs recently. NMH outscored Andover overall at the NMH invitational earlier in the season, but the strength of Andover’s packs has improved since that race, according to Harrison Wilson ’20.
“I definitely have grown really close to my pack in the past two races. Keeping that group together is going to be essential for any sort of post-season success,” said Wilson.
According to Justin Hardy ’23, some of the team’s success can be attributed to its home course advantage.
Hardy said, “I definitely think that [the home course advantage] helped us because we know that after the first hill we have a long mile stretch of downhill, or three-quarter mile-stretch of downhill, so we know that that’s our chance to make our moves…that’s when we make a lot of our passes—on that second uphill.”
Training on hills has been a focus of the team’s training because it will compete once more at Interschols on NMH’s technical course, according to Ratcliffe.
“Our league championships are going to be at Northfield, so running the hills has definitely been a big focus of our season. I think it’s not necessarily something that we need to work on, but it’s been a big focus being able to run up and efficiently down the hill because that’s something that we want to carry on later into the postseason,” said Ratcliffe.
Andover will travel to Deerfield on Sunday for its second to last dual meet of the season.