Following a rigorous preseason, Andover Girls Cross Country will look to repeat its dominant 2014-15 season, in which it went undefeated during the regular season and captured the New England Division I Prep School Champions title at Interschols.
“Our team is coming off a full sweep at Interschols, but we are still working on improving ourselves and getting to know our team with all of its new returning members. Our team becomes a large family, and that is our main focus for now. I definitely see this year as a very possible success for us, but with a stronger league we will have to work together,” said returner Morgan Rooney ’17.
Led by Captain Peyton McGovern ’16, Andover will return nearly all of its Varsity starters, with the only loss from its core of Varsity runners being last year’s Captain, Anoush Shehadeh ’15.
“Anoush was a fantastic runner not only in her physical abilities but also her ability to lead a diverse group of girls toward a common goal. As a captain and a runner she inspired everyone on the team to push their boundaries,” said returner Alana Gudinas ’16.
Shehadeh’s legacy will be difficult to ever match, as she currently owns six course records in the New England Prep School Division I. The team will also be without key veterans such as Sharon Platt ’15 and QiQi Ren ’15.
The team, however, remains confident despite the loss of last year’s leaders. Grace Rademacher ’18, the team’s top returning runner besides McGovern, added, “I’m really excited for Carmen Bango [’16], [McGovern], and Michaela Jones [’18] because they are in great shape and also very talented.”
The team’s primary goal is retaining the league title, competing against the likes of Choate, St. Paul’s, Northfield Mount Hermon, Deerfield and Phillips Exeter.
Parker Tope ’16 said, “This year we’re going to try hard to keep our league title, but we have tough competition.”
Tope continued, “[Our] key returners would be all of our Varsity group honestly. Our depth, I believe, is unmatched and hard to come by.”
The deep roster will need to improve over the course of the season in order to compete with other top teams in the league. The cross country program is comprised of a Junior Varisty and practice squad as well, leaving a buffer against injury and other obstacles.
McGovern looks forward to seeing the team come together under her leadership. “I’m most excited to see my team progress. The returners look super strong, and we definitely have some new talent as well,” said McGovern.
The team will spend its days practicing on a grueling on-campus course and is ready for the challenge of the season. Rooney said, “[Our] home course is tough, but each of us is tougher and will break each and every hill’s heart. We’re just getting started, but Girls Cross Country never backs down from a challenge, especially not this year.”
Girls Cross Country kicks off its 2015-2016 season on September 26 at the Codfish Bowl in Franklin Park in Boston, Mass.