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CHAMPS! Boys’ Cross Country Captures NEPSTA Title

CHAMPS! Boys’ Cross Country Captures NEPSTA Title
Jim Norman

You hear it often, in all walks of life—“Every second counts.” And that was certainly the case for the Canterbury Boys’ Cross Country team when it eked out a one-point victory over Concord Academy to win the NEPSTA Division III Cross Country Championship in Carlisle, MA, in November.

“That final race was the pinnacle of our season,” said Head Coach Charlie Gaetjens. “It was great because everyone ran an excellent race that day, and we won by one point! We needed all five of our top runners to run solid races, and everything came together.” He credited the work of Assistant Coach Prescott Hagen, as well as collaboration with the girls’ team at practices, for preparing the boys to bring home the title.

Tommy Lapham ’23 paced all Canterbury runners with a time of 17:35, good for eighth overall. Ryan Oemcke ’24 ran 17:44 and finished in 11th place. It was a total team effort, with the other five runners entered in the varsity race—Thomas Prendergast ’23, Bradley Bozzuto ’25, Matthew “Cullen” Mulhern ’22, Hanyan Cai ’22, and Huanrui “Paul” Hu ’23—coming up big as well.

The champion Saints were loving that winning feeling. “It was amazing. It felt like we were on top of the world,” said Cullen. “Hanyan and I had been running all four years together, and our goal since freshman year was to try and win the New England championship. It was indescribable, the greatest feeling ever.”

The teammates had each other’s backs both in the final race and throughout the season. “We all played our roles picking up the kids who were sick, the kids who were injured, and carried that through to the championship,” Tommy said.

Hanyan summed it up perfectly: “What we have is something special. We really have a close bond and, in the end, it was running for each other. As a senior, this is a special experience that not a lot of people will get to have. I am incredibly honored to be able to run my last year with these guys.”

All hail the champs!