EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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July 5, 2013

Beating the heat

Central grad Habib battles to second on recovery trail in North Andover race

NORTH ANDOVER — Under blistering conditions, with temperatures already in the 80s and accompanied by high humidity, Connor Habib was up to the challenge.

The former Central Catholic standout from Methuen couldn’t quite prevail in the North Andover 4th of July 5K yesterday morning, but he showed that he is back on schedule. He finished second in 17:12, 22 seconds behind the winner, Taylor Roberts of Newburyport.

An upcoming junior at UMass Lowell, Habib missed the entire 2012 cross country season and much of the track season because of mononucleosis. He’s just now rounding back into top form.

“This is my first (road) race of the year and I thought it went pretty good,” said Habib, who now lives is Hampton, N.H. “I wanted to get a good workout and I got that.

“I couldn’t quite stay with him (Roberts) but I’m a little banged up from running heavy mileage, so I’m pretty happy with it. I hope to crack the top five next year (for UMass Lowell cross country).”

For much of the race, Habib gave the more experienced Roberts all he could handle. A Newburyport High grad, Roberts ran for four years at Quinnipiac. He currently lives in New Jersey, working for New Balance, and recently ran the New Jersey President’s Cup 5K.

“I didn’t do as well as I wanted and this (North Andover) race was a chance to redeem myself,” said Roberts, who was back visiting friends and relatives. “This seemed like a good race and it had a good field.”

Finishing third in 17:34 was former North Andover High standout Alex Sullivan, who is headed to UMass Amherst in the fall after taking a year off from academics

Multi-time winner Kevin Alliette, the Methuen High assistant coach, was fourth in 17:48. Alliette has not had the time to train as much as he would like.

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