Leading Girls Junior Varsity Cross Country to victory, Eva Chilson ’18 finished in first place for Andover with a time of 22:45 at the Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH) Invitational last Saturday. Chilson was soon followed by Celeste Traub ’18, Morgan Rooney ’17, Natalie Yeh ’17 and Anna Kramer ’15 as the team swept the top five spots and secured a lopsided win against NMH and Loomis Chaffee.
Saturday’s victory maintained Andover’s dominance as one of the most successful schools in the New England Prep Schools Division I for cross-country. At last season’s Interschols, the team took three of the top five places, beating out second place Exeter by a 23-point margin. Andover has won the Interschols championship 14 times in the past 16 years.
The NMH Invitational, which was the team’s first meet of the season, proved to be a strong start that Andover will look to build off of going into future races. The team’s success came from a variety of sources.
Returner Susan Yun ’17, who set a Personal Record (PR) this past weekend, said, “I think our team did a good job of running in a pack, especially towards the end. Also, having your teammates’ support while running in the pack helps motivate you to finish strong.”
Yun believes Girls Cross Country’s success comes from a positive team dynamic, which encourages everyone to constantly improve.
“I would say one of the biggest factors to being undefeated is our team spirit. Cross-country has some of the most team spirit out of a lot of other sports teams because everyone loves to run. Having this passion allows everyone to be super enthusiastic and supportive when racing or even practicing. I think this strong dynamic pushes everyone on our team to try our absolute best and ultimately succeed,” said Yun.
Girls Varsity Cross Country Captain Peyton McGovern ’16 added, “In workouts and practices, we have different groups. When you work with a group, you are more likely to work together towards success, which is really important. That group aspect and breaking down into smaller groups is super important to the team’s overall success.”
Last year, Andover’s emphasis on practicing efficiently within small groups translated into strong pack running, a crucial strategy that the team will hope to continue this season. During last season’s Interschols tournament, Andover’s top six runners all finished within a minute of each other to clinch the championship trophy.
Newcomer Sarah Choi ’18 said, “Some days we go to the track and work in small teams, while other days we focus on running in packs. These group workouts have been really essential to our success this year.”
With 12 of the 14 runners who competed at NMH being returners, Andover certainly has a strong group of veterans to lead the team going into the season. Additionally, the team also has very strong runners on the varsity team to look up to as well.
Yun said, “There’s the factor of how strong our varsity team is and for me personally, because they inspire me so much, I try to have the mindset of working towards being that strong in the future.”
McGovern added that the team works toward success by focusing on minute details in preparation for races.
“I think it’s just really enforcing the little things also makes a difference. We really work towards doing extra stuff like core, sleep, and keep pushing yourself even when you don’t think you can complete a workout,” said McGovern.
In order to maintain a high standard from week to week, Andover constantly looks for ways to improve. Right now, runners are working on building up their speed for the home stretch of every race.
Yun added, “In the future, we’re trying to work on not starting off the race too fast because our goal is to work towards a negative split in our 5Ks, meaning a faster time with each mile. Starting off slower will help us finish stronger at the end.”
With a long history of success, Andover will be looking to take home the championship once again this year. The team’s next race is at Choate this Saturday.
Editor’s Note: Susan Yun ‘17 is a News Associate for The Phillipian.