Phillips Exeter Academy handed Andover Girls Cross Country its first loss of this season, sweeping the top five spots to post a 31-25 margin of defeat. Although Samantha Valentine ’17 and Michaela Jones ’18 had swept the top two spots in every race for Andover this season, the duo was outmatched by Exeter’s runners, and finished in sixth and seventh place, respectively, against an extremely competitive Exeter team.
Despite the tough result, Andover runners showed a positive outlook as a team. This is the second time Andover has faced Exeter this season, and the team’s overall performance has improved since the last time the two teams met.
Michaela Jones ’18 said, “The scores this time were very close, with Exeter beating us by only six points. I think this shows how much we have improved since the Codfish Bowl, where we were not nearly as close to beating Exeter.”
Jessica Wang ’18 continued, “We knew that Exeter was going to be strong, and that it would be a close race. It was a narrow loss, but we fought until the very end.”
Although the team suffered a crushing loss, there were still high spirits throughout the race.
Wang said, “Throughout the course, our teammates were cheering us on while holding signs. There was a lot of big blue energy and Andover spirit on Exeter’s course, and not even a loss can take that away.”
The return of both Marina Hunt ’17 and Eva Chilson ’18 from hip injuries also supplemented Andover’s team and helped them finish stronger. Both runners had been sidelined for several weeks and their return was met with excitement.
Chilson said, “I was really happy to be back racing with my team, especially because I felt no hip pain during the race. Over the course of the season everyone has gotten so much stronger and it has been so exciting to see how much everyone has improved from the first race.”
Assistant Coach Rachel Hyland said, “It’s really exciting that Eva and Marina were able to complete on Saturday, and it’s great that they are back and healthy.”
This coming weekend, Andover will travel back up to Exeter to run in Interschols, the largest and most significant meet of the season. The team has swept the competition the past two years and will be aiming to continue its championship winning streak.
Jones said, “It would be really exciting to earn a third consecutive title and I think everyone on the team shares this goal. Once again, I think it will be tough and the score will be close, but our team is an amazingly talented and motivated group of girls and I know we will go for the challenge.”
Discussing the team’s improvements and aspirations, Chilson said, “Over the course of the season everyone has gotten so much stronger, and it has been so exciting to see how much everyone has improved from the first race. Heading into Interschols, I really want to have a strong last race. Interschols is a much bigger race and there is a broad range of competition. I am confident that everyone will race their best and I look forward to seeing the outcome this Saturday.”
After losing its perfect season to Exeter, Andover hopes to avenge itself and win another championship.
Expressing this sentiment, Hyland added, “I think we ran well. Exeter came out ahead this time, but I believe we performed really well as a team. We hope to do well later this week at Interschols.”