Andover Girls Indoor Track and Field opened their season this Wednesday with a dominant victory at its new Snyder Center in a tri-meet against Wilbraham & Monson Academy and Governor’s Academy. Andover won the meet with a score of 84 points, while Governor’s claimed second with a score of 25 points, and Wilbraham finished third with a score of 8 points.
Describing the meet, Captain Fredericka Lucas ’18 said, “Today’s meet was an amazing way for the team to kick off the season and break in the new track in the Snyder Center. There were great performances across the board, from our youngest athletes to our most experienced athletes. Several PATF alums from the Class of 2017 and our former sprints and hurdles coach, Coach Johnson, also visited, making the meet particularly special.”
Andover’s new Snyder Center includes a 200-meter flat rubberized track, a shot ring, jump pits, bleachers, and mats for pole vault and high jump. Additionally, the facility is much better-lit, larger, and more open than the Case Memorial Cage, allowing spectators a more comfortable and clearer view of the competitors.
The Snyder Center’s rubberized surface allowed athletes to compete in faster, spiked shoes instead of the flat shoes required in the Case Cage. This is a major improvement, according to sprinter-hurdler Ava Stills ’19.
“Competing in spikes is way, way better than having to use just regular shoes in the Cage. And I also think it’s nice to have a bigger track, especially for the longer events,” said Stills.
Sprinter-jumper Madison Bourassa ’20 also praised the facility’s jump pits.
“Everyone was looking forward to being able to wear spikes on the track. I was personally most excited for the new sandpit that I got to jump into, since I am a long jumper,” she added.
Several of the distances competed changed, because the Cage had been a 150-yard track and the Snyder Center is a 200-meter track. In particular, the 50-Yard Dash and Hurdles were changed to the 55-Meter Dash and Hurdles, and the 300-Yard Run, 600- Yard Run, 1000-Yard Run, and 4×440-Yard Relay became their 300, 600, 1000, and 4×400-Meter equivalents. This meant that the first finisher in any of those events had set a school record.
“It was also awesome to see history being made as several athletes set records for the new facility,” said Lucas.
The meet was highlighted by the 4×400-Meter Relay. The Andover A-team of Georgia Ezell ’19, Isabella Morzano ’18, Sadie Cheston-Harris ’21, and Lucas was closely pursued throughout the entire race by a dogged Governor’s team. The two teams exchanged the lead several times throughout the race. A powerful last 200 meters from Lucas allowed her to pull away from the Governor’s team in the last straightaway and secure a victory for Andover, outrunning its opponent in a time of 4:28.59 minutes to Governor’s 4:29.38 minutes.
“We finally took the lead in the third leg, but it was super close right until the end. That made it really fun to cheer for. You could hear the crowd getting louder and louder as they got closer to the finish line,” said sprinter-jumper Jan Rangsisingpipat ’19.
The main factor for Andover’s success was team spirit, according to Bourassa.
“I think the team spirit displayed today played a big factor in our teams win. Track isn’t usually seen as a team sport, but in order for our team to get points we need multiple people placing in all different events,” Bourassa said.
Bourassa continued, “Last year most of the track athletes would leave before the meet had completely finished, but today almost everyone stayed for the entire meet, which made the team spirit contagious. Having people stay and cheer you on even when you are in one of the later events, helps to keep you going.”
Stills continued, “This was one of the highest-energy meets I think we’ve ever had. I think it was a really good vibe, not just because we won, but just because the people there were really positive, and there were a lot of fans, and everybody stayed until the end.”
Wednesday’s meet also allowed many new members of Andover Track and Field to show their prowess. Post-Graduate Sophia Slovenski ’18 claimed a first-place finish in the Long Jump with a mark of 15 feet, 9.25 inches, along with a third-place finish in the 55-Meter Dash with a time of 7.78 seconds, and picked up another first-place finish in the 55-Meter Hurdles with a time of 9.29 seconds.
“One thing about track is that it’s a constant show of people doing their best effort, and for me, cheering on for them is my favorite thing,” said Slovenski. She continued, “ I’m very excited for the rest of the season. And the Snyder Center, it’s just amazing. I’ve never seen a track like this before.”
Lucas said, “Going forward this season, we hope to continue to get stronger, avoid injury, and continue performing well in meets. I’m so proud to be part of such a spirited and hard-working team!”
Andover will host Andover High School at home next Wednesday.