Andover is represented on the MVHS boys cross country team by sophomores David and Matthew Reynolds. They are returning for their second season of MV cross country. They are joined in the team’s top seven by Seniors Dylan Guinard, Raging River Lynch, Ryan Latorella, and first time runners Matt Lyle, a Junior, and Sophomore Taylor Burke. The team this year is talented but inexperienced with many first time runners and a top 7 that has changed frequently as the season has progressed.
The season started August 27 at the Great Glen Invitational. The race takes place on the rolling cross country ski trails of Great Glen at the base of Mt Washington. David led the way for MV running as high as 2nd before finishing strong in 4th. Matthew was second for MV recovering from a fall in the first mile. Dylan was third for MV, followed by Taylor, River, Ryan, and Connor Butt rounding out the MV top seven.
The next three meets were three and four team meets with teams like Coe Brown, Oyster River, Sanborn, Lebanon, and Hanover. David, Matt, and Dylan solidified themselves as the top three with David winning two of the three meets and crushing the Sophomore course record on the MV home course. The remaining four spots in the top seven shuffled among six different runners over these meets giving an indication of some depth on the team.
The next big meet was the Bobcat Invitational at Freestyle Farm in Amherst. This was the first meet where teams were showing their best, led by Division II favorite Patrick O’Brien from Oyster River. O’Brien set the mark everyone was shooting for winning the race in 15:54. David ran in the chase group of 4 about a minute back. He ran a personal best and finished 5th. Matt ran a strong second half of the race to take second on the team followed Dylan. River and Matt Lyle rounded out MV’s top 5.
The next two weeks were devoted to training and getting ready for the Manchester Invitational. Manchester is a meet that attracts top teams from all over New England. Teams are split into two races based on school size and Merrimack Valley competed in the Large School Race. The MV boys ran spectacular races. Six all-time PR’s and one season-best. It doesn’t get much better than that! David ran the 5th fastest Division II time of the day, and the 21st fastest New Hampshire time. He also ran onto MV’s all-time top 10 list in 9th, knocking off Kyle Wiley (MV ‘12). Matt R. broke 18 for the first time ever, and was Division II’s 23rd finisher. Matt is now 6th on MV’s sophomore Derryfield list, and David is first (before David, Colton Ham owned the top spot for MV for all grades on Derryfield and our home course, David has now replaced him on both lists for 9th and 10th grades). Meanwhile, Dylan broke 19 for the first time in a big way, by 18 seconds! Matt L. chopped two minutes off his PR, almost breaking 20 minutes. As a team, MV finished 26th of 38 teams, and even more impressively finished 8th out of 14 D II teams when merged with only D II schools (not all D II schools were represented, of course).
As the training workload increased the team competed in the Jeri Blair Invitational at Belmont. It’s also known as the t-shirt meet as the top 20 boys and girls win t-shirts. David (17:24) scored the lone t-shirt in placing 8th overall. The long kick wasn’t present today, he had a shot at third if it was. It was a close finish. Dylan (19:11) took the second spot for the second time this year, while Matt R. (19:27) gamely battled fatigue to score third for the team. Taylor ran the most controlled race of the day, passing what seemed like 100 runners to move up to place as our 4th and set a new PR of 20:25, while Matt L. (20:44) finished as MV’s 5th runner, just ahead of River (20:50) in 6th. Ryan Latorella (21:11) was the 7th and final varsity runner on the day.
On October 14 the team traveled to Plymouth for the John Sanborn invitational. Perfect weather and a slight easing of the workload had confidence high for a good day. Plymouth features a hilly challenging courses that favors racing for place over time. David led the way for the Pride, battling for the lead before finally finishing 3rd, 5 seconds behind the winner and with the same time as second place. Matt ran better as he got over his cold to take 17th and Dylan was close behind in 27th. Matt Lyle was a strong 4th for MV followed by Ryan, River, and Mason.
Next up for the team is Merrimack Valley’s Home invitational, the Capital Area Championship followed by the Division II State Meet. If anyone on the team can finish in the top 25 at States, they qualify for the Meet of Champions in November.