After ending last year’s season with second-place finishes for both the varsity and JV teams at the Nepsta Division I Championships, a dominant 19-36 win over Phillips Exeter Academy, and an overall record of 4-1 in dual meets, Andover Girls Cross Country is setting its sights on the coming season. While 2017 Head Coach Rebecca Hession is on sabbatical this season and Coach Rachel Hyland has left, Coach Patrick Rielly has stepped up to take their place and Captain Rhea Chandran ’19 will lead the squad in her fourth season on the team.
Rielly coached Andover Boys Cross Country for one season in 2015 and has coached multiple seasons of track and tield, but this season marks his first time leading the girls cross country team. His coaching style is centered around combining the existing strengths of the team with his own new objectives.
Rielly wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “My goal is to try to preserve the positive culture of the program and to challenge the runners to treat every day as an opportunity to get stronger. This season, I’m emphasizing three values: strength, community, and efficiency. I hope these will help us keep our goals — as a team and as individuals — in focus.”
Molly MacQueen ’21 said, “This year will definitely be different without Coach Hession and Coach Hyland, but I’m really excited to change things up a bit, and Coach Rielly is bringing in some great new components as well as preserving our old program values.”
Many team members trained throughout the summer, according to returning runner Marguerite Montagner ’21.
“The summer is really about building a base and consistency with your training… Most of us ran several times a week, but wherever you come into cross country, it’s a good place to start,” said Montagner.
During preseason, which began on September 1, the team focused on hill workouts and conditioning.
Montagner said, “We had two practice slots a day [during preseason] and we ran in one of them with a couple hill workouts, a couple long runs. And then we had team meetings to talk about the season and upcoming races, and we did some core and stretching and some strength and mobility in our other sessions.”
“We had a fantastic preseason. The runners took their summer training seriously, and we were able to do some strong hill workouts in the Sanctuary. I’m so confident in the leaders of the team,” added Coach Rielly.
The team’s upperclassmen have also made an effort to reach out to new runners, according to MacQueen.
MacQueen said, “Both Rhea and the rest of the Seniors have done a phenomenal job so far this year setting a great example and fostering the values of GXC. They are all great about talking and getting to know the new runners, and are working really hard to introduce the culture and traditions of the team to our new teammates.”
Andover aims to focus on the Nepsta Division I Championships for the majority of the season while also training for its meet against Deerfield, the only loss the team had in the 2017 season. Deerfield was also the only team to beat Andover at the Nepsta Championships, scoring 34 points to Andover’s 57 and winning the championship.
Montagner said, “Deerfield has a really strong team that beat us last year, and we are all really hoping to come back stronger against them this year, both in our race against them, and in Interschols this November. Interschols is our biggest meet and a focus for the season, so in really tough workouts we remind ourselves of November 10 and the depth we hope to bring as a team at the end of the season.”
Andover will race at the fiftieth annual Codfish Bowl in Boston to kick off its season on September 22.