Carmen Bango ’16, Captain Peyton McGovern ’16 and Michaela Jones ’18 crossed the finish line within 22 seconds of each other to seal first, second and third places against Phillips Exeter Academy on Saturday. With times of 18:10, 18:16 and 18:32, respectively, all three runners set home course personal records (PRs). Their stellar performances allowed Andover Girls Cross Country to close out its undefeated 5-0 season with a 21-34 win.
Due to the strength of the Exeter team, Andover’s varsity pack was broken up by opposing runners for one of the first times this season. While Andover clinched first through third, it did not place another runner until Marina Hunt ’17 set a PR to finish sixth in 19:26.
Andover’s fifth runner Sharon Zhang ’16 said, “While we’ve been undefeated, going into this weekend’s race we knew that Exeter would be the toughest competition we’ve seen so far this season. They have great pack running and that was definitely something new for us to go up against. Our first pack of [Bango, Jones, and McGovern] got past their top runners, but their packs started splitting up the rest of us–[Hunt, Grace Rademacher ’18, and myself]–so I think going forward we can work on sticking with and breaking up packs that aren’t our own.”
Despite the tough competition, the girls had an outstanding race and set multiple PRs due to their determination and strong camaraderie.
Hunt said, “Exeter is the tightest pack and toughest competition we’ve seen all season, so I think all of the PRs could definitely be a result of being pushed by the competition.”
McGovern added, “I think the large number of PR’s were a result of the fact that everyone wanted to do the best they could for themselves because it was our last home race, but also for the whole team. Cross country is very much individual in a sense but there is always the overarching bond of the team that motivates us all.”
As it heads into its final week of practice, Andover will taper its training to conserve energy for Interschols, which is the final championship for all teams in the league.
Hunt said, “At this point in the season, the week before Interschols, our goal is no longer to train but to maintain our current condition and stay healthy. This week is all about light running, getting good fuel and getting enough sleep.”
Andover looks to finish its season with a win at Interschols this Saturday.