NEPSTA Div 1 Championships
On May 18, 2019 at 10:00 AM
Big Blue scores 70 points.
The Andover boys track and field team traveled to Loomis Chaffee on Saturday for the 2019 NESPSTA Division 1 Championship, where the team was seeking its second title in three years. The Big Blue would rack up 70 points on the day, equaling their total from their championship-winning 2017 season, yet the team would ultimately have to settle for fourth place, as Choate Rosemary Hall tallied 84 points for the win, followed by Loomis Chaffee (81) in second and Phillips Exeter (71) in third.
The meet was competitive throughout, however, beginning with the field events, which got underway at 10:30. Indeed, the Big Blue pick up a few points in the early going, as Timmer Verhaegh (’19) secured a fourth-place finish in the Shot Put, posting a season best mark of 47-01.75, while Will Godbout (’20) would pick up a point in the Long Jump, jumping 20-03.25 to finish in sixth. These five points put Andover in seventh place early on, trailing early leaders Exeter (22) and Loomis (18).
Andover would begin hunting for points on the track with the 4x100m relay, though a mis-timed hand-off on the second exchange saw the Big Blue finish with a DQ. A team with less mental fortitude might have let this put a damper on the day, but Andover would rebound well in the preliminary heats of the 110m High Hurdles and the 100m Dash. Zuhieb Abdi (’20) was the first to secure a spot in the finals, posting a season best time of 15.88 seconds in the hurdles, while both Kareem Hill (’19) and Alexander Oder (’21) qualified for the finals of the 100m, posting times of 11.11 and 11.57, respectively.
With the finals of the shorter races now set, the focus would turn to one the marquee events of the meet: the 1500m. Boasting one of the deepest fields in meet history, the race went out fast with several different runners tacking a crack at the lead. And with one lap to go, an athlete from NMH made a strong move to surge ahead, but Alex Fleury (’20) would respond in kind, using his own kick to claim the lead on the back stretch. The field did not respond, as the Andover upper took the win in with a time of 3:55.61 – also good for a new upper record. Yet, despite these ten points, some strong performances from a number of league rivals in the 400m saw the Big Blue slip to eighth place in the team standings with fifteen points, trailing Loomis (31), Avon Old Farms (26), and Exeter and Taft (both with 22) with seven events gone.
But the tide would turn with the finals of the 100m, as Kareem Hill stepped up to claim Andover’s second individual title of the day, pulling away from the field late to cross the line in 11.29 seconds, a mere .04 seconds ahead of second place. Zuhieb Abdi would follow suit with a sixth-place finish in the 110 Hurdles, running 15.97 in the finals, which together pushed the Big Blue all the way up into fourth place in the team race with 26 points, though still trailing Loomis (37), Choate (36), and Exeter (31) – a theme that would recur throughout the competition.
Andover would keep chipping away the lead, however, grabbing a few more points in both the Discus and the Javelin. Timmer Verhaegh again posted a personal best, this time with a toss of 139-01 in the Discus – good for second place and eight points – and Liu Rothschild snagged a fourth-place finish in the Javelin with a season best throw of 148-07. Exeter would also post some strong marks in the same events, which saw the Big Blue’s rival surge into the lead, though Loomis and Choate would respond with ten points apiece in the Triple Jump – an event in which Andover would also pick up another point, as Zuhieb Abdi posted another personal with a leap of 40-02.75, good for sixth place.
The 800m would bring the focus back to the track, where Alex Fleury, fresh off his win the 1500m, took the field out in a blistering pace, clocking 53 seconds in his opening lap. He would only extend his lead from there, holding on for his second win of the day in 1:54.64 – just a second off the meet record. A late surge from Owen Glover (’19) saw the senior take sixth place in the same event, clocking a personal best time of 1:58.41. But more importantly, the combined result saw the Big Blue closing in on the team leaders, with Loomis leading at 59 points, followed by Exeter (56), Choate (54), and Andover, now with 50.
Alex Schimmel (’22) would follow up the 800m with a fifth-place finish in the 300m Hurdles, running 42.16 seconds to lower his own junior class record. Exeter, Choate, and Loomis would add points to their haul in the same event, however, along with some extra points in Pole Vault, which saw a gap start to open up between the Big Blue and the top three.
But once again, Andover would look to reel the leaders back in, as Kareem Hill claimed his second win of the day, this time in the 200m. Unlike the 100m, however, this race was never in doubt, as the Andover senior pulled away from the field down the home stretch to stop the clock at 22.51 seconds, bringing his team’s total to 62 points – now trailing Exeter by only seven.
Yet, a big 1-3 finish from Loomis in the 3000m saw the hosts surge into the lead with just one event to go, leading Choate by a margin of 81-74, followed by Exeter (71) and Andover (62), putting the title out of reach for the Big Blue. Even so, Andover wasn’t done, as the team sought to provide an emphatic finish in the 4x400m relay. Strong legs from Schimmel, Hill, and Glover meant Andover were in the mix heading into the final lap, though Alex Fleury had work to do on the anchor leg. Nonetheless, the Andover upper clocked a 49.6 split to rally his team from fifth into second place, behind only Choate, whose victory also clinched the meet title.
Andover will be back in action on Saturday, May 25, where they will visit Phillips Exeter for their final meet of the season.
Further more detailed results.