Boys Cross Country Opens Season at Manchester Invitational, Team’s Top Five Runners Finish Within 37 Seconds of Each Other

On Saturday, Andover Boys Cross Country opened its season in Derryfield, N.H. at the 2022 Manchester Invitational. Out of 30 teams in the field, the team’s top seven runners placed 14 while the next seven runners placed fourth in their respective races. 

In the summer months leading up to Manchester, the team focused on building aerobic fitness through long, slow, and easy running. Manchester was an opportunity for the team to become more acclimated to harder and faster efforts, according to Max Huang ’24.

“I think this race was testing our fitness and seeing where we are from summer training and the first couple weeks of practice. I think now we know we need to work on our strength a little bit to handle the hills. Maybe get in some faster speed work, so we can handle the faster pace during the race,” said Huang.

Eager to break the monotony of summer training, the team had high expectations going into its first race, according to Mario Calvo ’24. Of the 24 students who raced that day, 14 made their first Andover Cross Country debuts, whereas many others broke personal records from previous seasons. 

“I think what our strengths this weekend is that a lot of people were really excited to go out there and compete for the first time this season. I think in the last couple of weeks I have found there has been a lot of optimism in the team. Optimism to perform well, obtain personal records, and to do well for the school and I think that reflected well in the meet last week. A lot of our athletes obtained personal records in the meet and Andover was able to come away with the win,” said Calvo.

With 230 runners in the Boys Large School Varsity race and 270 runners in the Boys Junior Varsity B race, Nathan Neu ’26 highlighted the importance of the vast competition at Manchester. Unlike a typical dual meet, having people to run alongside at all times at a large invitational led to faster times, according to Neu. 

“[We were] just trying to compete, compete, compete. Everybody out there is your competition and everybody out there is trying to make you run faster. The team’s goal [was] to work harder and improve times, improving our weaknesses individually that we found out we had in the race. Races are to see what our weaknesses are,” said Neu.

The course at Manchester consisted of a concentrated series of steep uphills in the second mile and steep, rocky downhills in the third mile. Despite the course’s difficulty, Huang commended the team for its overall performance, noticing that most of the team in the varsity race finished within the same minute. 

“A hard part of the race was the hills. The second mile of the race, I think our team worked really well together to work through the hills and to finish the race strong. I think our spread was 37 seconds between our first and last place finishes, which was the lowest of any team there,” said Huang. 

According to Calvo, the team hopes to not only improve its individual 5k times, but also develop more effective racing strategies for future races. These strategies involve the whole team, with all its members collectively working alongside one another to put down faster results. 

“I think the mindset of the team is always to see what we can improve on, whether that be taking time off of our 5k or running more efficiently as a team and also communication among athletes. I think these are strategies we are trying to develop as a team this week, and I think that will serve us well this week and for the rest of the season,” said Calvo.

Andover Boys Cross Country will race at the Northfield Mount Hermon Invitational this Saturday.