Molly MacQueen ’21 and Alisa Crueger-Cain ’20 sprinted side-by-side across the finish line to earn first and second place respectively, leading Andover Girls Cross Country to a decisive victory with a nearly perfect top five pack. Andover won its first official race of the 2017 season at the Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH) Invitational on Saturday, and secured a season record of 1-0.
Despite missing Michaela Jones ’18, five out of the top six finishers were from Andover, including MacQueen and Crueger-Cain who had identical times of 20:15 minutes.
The pair were followed by a fourth place finish from Isabella Morzano ’18 at 21:20, a fifth place finish by Posie Millett ’20 at 21:42, a sixth place finish by Jess Wang ’18 at 21:44, a ninth place finish by Eva Chilson ’18 at 22:07, and a twelfth place finish by Brooke Sanders ’19 at 22:27.
This group of runners helped the varsity team score 18 points at NMH, only three points off of an ideal race, which would have Andover sweeping first place to fifth place.
Despite the strong performances on the course, the week leading up to the NMH Invitational was a time mainly for self-care and support, according to Head Coach Rebecca Hession.
“This week, our emphasis was on the people side, the relationships, the support, and the girls. As a program, Andover Cross Country really came together this weekend to support one another, to support [its] friends, to support [its] teammates, to support [its] community, and I really value NMH and [its] partnership in that,” said Coach Hession.
At the race, Andover runners wore a strip of black tape on their singlets to honor Dan Nakajima ’18, a beloved senior and a member of Andover Boys Track & Field, who competed as a jumper. A moment of silence was also observed before the awards ceremony at the invitational.
“This week has been a really trying week, so we were all supporting each other, and it really felt like we were really close as a team this week,” said Mia Levy ’21.
Teamwork and support was also beneficial on the course where runners battled with other teams for top finishes, according to MacQueen.
“I think running together [with Crueger-Cain] was really exciting and gave us a lot more strength. It makes you a lot more powerful, and we also did some hill workouts this week, together that I think gave us a lot more strength and confidence on the course,” said MacQueen.
The pack-running strategy used by Crueger-Cain and MacQueen is a technique that allows the team to focus on perfecting the order of its runners to reduce the team’s final score.
“I think, as a team, we always have pretty strong packs, which is really important in cross-country. Historically, we have always had strong packs, and we have always had a deep team, because our team is big, in terms of ability and speed,” said Olivia Brokaw ’18.
On October 7, Andover will host Choate Rosemary Hall in a dual meet.