Boys Cross Country Places Third At Northfield Mount Hermon Invitational

Andover Boys Cross Country raced at the Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH) Invitational against NMH, Loomis Chaffee, St. Paul’s, and Keene High School on Saturday. The team’s ten Varsity runners came in third out of five teams with 65 points. The remaining runners took first in the Junior Varsity race with 15 points, sweeping the top five individual places. 

With a 90-minute drive, the team was able to use the long bus ride to its advantage. Max Huang ’24 felt as though the relaxed nature of the bus ride allowed the team to visualize the run ahead and transition into a racing mindset, which led the team to be ready to run as soon as it arrived at NMH. 

I think the bus ride was actually good for us because we had time to calm down before the race, think about how we were going to race, and to also just spend time with each other. It was a good environment on the bus,” said Huang.

The course consisted of rolling hills and uneven, rocky footing. Despite the course’s difficulty, Lundeen Cahilly ’24 reflected that much of the team had a successful race, setting personal records. With about twenty team members racing for the first time on Saturday, Cahilly said the team is optimistic about its growth through the rest of the season.

“For all the guys who this was their first race of the season or their first race ever, it’s definitely like being thrown into the deep end. It’s one of our tougher courses, maybe the toughest we actually race, although Manchester was possibly harder, but not all of the guys raced that. It’s a difficult course, but overall getting into that mindset early in the season of getting into it, grinding out the miles, and running fast is a good mindset to get in. We’re just getting into the right place,” said Cahilly.

Three-fifths of the course included trails that were surrounded by nothing but woods, creating an isolated environment. Cahilly noted the importance of team members leaning on each other for support when there was no one around to cheer them on. 

“One thing we make sure to do as a team is to run in packs. At a time, we try to run at least a minimum of two guys together, and at the last mile, race apart because you’re trying to get your time and see what you can do. We [do] really solid grouping up and sticking together. When you’re being pushed by another guy who does a little more than you on those hills that are really testing you. When there’s no one around, that pulls you along and helps you run faster. I think just teamwork [helps you keep the pace and stay tough],” said Cahilly.

Huang led the team’s top ten with a sixth place individual finish. However, Robert Budzinski ’26 also complimented Luke Williamson ’25 for his 13th place individual finish and consistent dedication to the team. 

“[Luke] had a great race, both time and respective to the rest of the team. He ran a lot better than he did at Manchester. It’s probably one of the best races he’s ever ran. And then after, during the girls race, he was super enthusiastically cheering for all of the girls, not just the girls at Andover, which I thought was really nice. It was definitely a really hard course, and by the end you were really struggling, so it was nice for him to just cheer for everyone. That definitely stood out to me,” said Budzinski.

With some of the usual Varsity runners out due to injury and illness, other team members had to step up to fill in the roles. According to Huang, the Varsity race allowed many to experience deeper competition and higher pressure for the first time this season.

“This was just a big opportunity for both the people who didn’t get to race the week before to come out and run, and also we were missing some key members of our varsity team, so it was a great opportunity for some of the JV runners to step up. I think they did a great job,” said Huang.

Looking forward, the team hopes to dive deeper into the speed and strength portion of its training. Huang believes the early races allow the team to acclimate to the faster paces, setting a strong foundation to build upon for the rest of the season. 

“I think we’re just coming off of our base training phase, so we haven’t done much strength and speed work yet. Once we start fine-tuning for faster races and doing similar speed work, I think we’ll be even more prepared to run faster times,” said Huang.

Andover Boys Cross Country will race at Choate in a dual meet this Saturday.