Fall Sports, Girls Cross Country, Sports

Andover Girls Cross Country Overcomes Hills to Defeat Choate

J.Buehler/The Phillipian

Alisa Crueger-Cain ’20 has been a member of the team since her Junior Year.

Carmel Fitzgibbon ’22 surged to a dominant win in her first race for Andover at Choate on Saturday, while Liz Tran ’19 returned after two-year hiatus to take a close third. Fitzgibbon ran the course in 19 minutes and 42 seconds, with seven members of Andover’s team finishing within the next three minutes. Andover defeated Choate 26-29, raising its varsity record to 2-0 in its first dual meet of the season. 

“I think we raced really well. We won, so the whole experience was definitely really fun and overall a great experience. The course had some hills, which was really unexpected, so it was definitely very challenging. I didn’t know [what] to expect or what was going to happen, but I was really happy with how it went. I don’t think it could’ve gone much better and I am excited for Saturday [against St. Paul’s],” said Fitzgibbon.

“[Tran], who returned to the team after [two years] off and had been a varsity runner her [Junior] year, came back really strong…. She really killed it, she was out fast and really kept the momentum the entire race. Carmel Fitzgibbon also looked very strong… She set a great tone for the rest of the Andover runners and it was really motivating to see her lead the pack of all the Varsity and JV runners right from the start of the race,” said Abby Ryan ’21.

Andover’s pack style of running and recovering on downhill sections helped it to overcome the infamous Water Tower Hill, according to Ryan and Brooke Sanders ’19.

“There was a pretty tough hill at the start of the second mile in the course, it was a pretty steep incline. That was where a lot of the Andover pack running came in handy, because we were able to catch up [to] and cut off a lot of the Choate runners.” said Ryan.

“It’s well known for everyone on the team that we are going to have the super steep, super long hill, but after that there’s a lot of downhill. In practice, we worked on attacking the downhill, and using gravity at the downhill, so it was a pretty good course for us,” said Sanders.

The team practiced running several hills throughout the week in preparation for Choate’s Water Tower Hill, according to Ryan and Sanders.

“This past Wednesday, our workout was focused on some longer hills, and we did a few reps of those which helped us build our endurance and stamina, especially for this weekend where the were a few of those longer hills and for next weekend which is our first home race. Those reps definitely prepared us for the major hill at Choate,” said Ryan.

“We practiced Log Cabin Hill [a quarter-mile-long hill on Andover’s own course] in preparation for the Water Tower Hill, and we practiced using the downhill a lot, and that definitely showed because there was a ton of downhill, and we ended up passing people on the downhill who went faster during the uphill,” said Sanders.

Andover will continue to improve its hill running in preparation for the at home in its next race, according to Sanders.

“I think we are going to continue to work on hills because our next race is going to be home and we have Heartbreak Hill and Log Cabin Hill, so I think as we continue to get better at hills those will get a bit easier,” said Sanders.

The team is also looking to improve on strengthening its team dynamic and pack running moving forward, according to Fitzgibbon and Ryan.

“Everyone is all friends and we always cheer for each other and it’s always really fun being with the team. I think every week getting stronger, and working together, and becoming more tight as a group will be really important,” said Fitzgibbon.

“I think that especially in our past two races our pack running has especially looked really strong, and hopefully we can maintain that because that has been a great skill that we’ve been working on during practice and will help us in the meets ahead,” said Ryan.

Andover will race St. Paul’s at home this Saturday.

Oct 12, 2018