Despite Falling to Exeter, Boys Cross Country Showcases “Camaraderie” and “Team Spirit”

In its second encounter with Phillips Exeter Academy, Andover Boys Cross Country fell 21-38, its first dual meet loss this season. The team’s dual meet record now stands at 3-1. 

Running head-to-head with an Exeter runner for the entirety of the Junior Varsity race, Sebastian Lemberger ’25 just barely edged out the runner in the final 200 meters. Despite the team’s loss in the Varsity race, Lemberger led the team to a 26-29 Junior Varsity win. Lemberger felt that the last mile of Exeter’s course, which lined the perimeter of an open field, allowed for the perfect opportunity to spot and pass opponents. 

“The third mile is very important on the course, because Exeter’s course is tricky, in that it sort of deceives you into going really fast on the first mile, and wasting all your energy. It’s also hard to pass people throughout the course, so the third mile is the best time that you have for passing. So in general, in all races, that was a fairly crucial stretch of the course. It was definitely important in my race, because I had a big pass at the end,” said Lemberger. 

Max Huang ’24 explained that the team’s strengths against Exeter lay in its team dynamic. When not racing, members of the team supported one another by enthusiastically cheering along the course, according to Huang.  

“I think [our] strengths [are] just the overall team spirit and the camaraderie on the team. Everyone is super supportive of each other. Both in practice, and then also during the races. We’re cheering each other on, even if its people in the JV race, Varsity race, or the Girls JV race, or the Girls Varsity race. We’re all just cheering each other on, just being super supportive,” said Huang. 

After its second place finish to Exeter two weeks prior, the team focused its efforts on speed work heading into Saturday’s dual meet. Through race simulation in workouts, the team hoped to improve on its foot speed in the final portion of the race, according to Krenteras.

“At this point, the bulk of our training had already been done. So it was mainly speed work leading up to this. We were actually at Exeter two weeks ago for a quad meet, and out of fourteen finishes that were within three seconds of other Exeter runners, I think we only won five. So we did a lot of speed and endurance work… to simulate doing that last kick at the line so [we could] beat that Exeter runner,” said Krenteras.

Lemberger also noted the switch to more speed-focused work in the team’s training plan. In addition, the team began its taper leading up to Andover/Exeter (A/E), which prioritizes faster, higher-quality workouts rather than longer mileage during practice.  

“Towards the beginning of the season, our training was based on aerobic capacity and stamina. As we get closer to the end of the season, in this last full team meet and Interschols, we’ve moved more towards speed work and trying to get better starts and finishes, getting more high-speed effort into our races. So that’s what we’ve been working on leading up to this,” said Lemberger.

Saturday’s Varsity race only included fourteen runners total, the smallest field out of any meet this season. To be competitive in its championship meet next week, Lemberger believes the team needs to reduce the time gap between the team’s first and seventh runners, which can be achieved through better pack running.

“Our big weakness is probably just that there was a very large gap between our… fastest varsity runners and our other varsity runners…Often, when facing off against teams like Exeter that have all their runners within a relative middle-ground with their fast people, this can sort of put us at a disadvantage. Because yes, we have some inhumanely fast people, but our Varsity team is very dispersed in terms of speed. I think that’s something that we can work on,” said Lemberger.

Boys Cross Country will race at the NEPSAC Division I Cross Country Championships hosted at St. Paul’s, on Saturday.