Brianna Jordan ’09, Captain Katie Faulkner ’06, and Jen Downing ’08 led the Andover Girls Varsity Cross-Country team to a seventh place finish at the Harrier Classic at Franklin Park in Boston last Saturday. Against Division III colleges, club teams, and chief rival Exeter, Andover’s first race of the season was eminently successful and will help inspire the team to get ready for the season ahead. Coach Lang instructed the team to be fast off the line in order to assert its position in the pack. About 100 meters into the race, the course jumps up a sharp hill and narrows drastically. At this point, runners must not fall behind the pack because passing other runners costs valuable time and energy. Jordan, Captain Faulkner, and Downing stayed together for the entire race. Jordan and Captain Faulkner took the lead for the first mile, and Downing led the second. Captain Faulkner led the third and final mile, with Jordan leading the finish. Jordan finished with a time of 20:07, with Captain Faulkner and Downing on her tail with times of 20:11 and 20:12, respectively. The three placed 23rd, 26th, and 28th overall, and were the third, fifth, and sixth high school students to finish. Captain Faulkner said, “This race was a lot more cutthroat and intense than anything we had done before… If you passed a girl, she’d pass you right back, and you’d get shoved off the path and everything.” Faulkner continued, “The thing was, though, that we all came out of the race feeling great; like that was what cross-country was about. It was rejuvenating, it was exciting, and we all had a good time.” Sara Ho ’08 followed close behind, finishing 50th with a time of 20:56. She said, “The course was relatively flat and mostly grassy, making it fast and perfect for spikes.” Ho ran the first mile with Katie Morris ’07, but then went on ahead. Morris finished 58th overall with a time of 21:40. Chris Sargent ’06 finished soon after, placing 61st in a time of 21:44. Unfortunately, Andover’s seventh runner, Becca Waldo ’07, was sidelined at the last minute with a recurring knee injury. Morris said, “Everyone who ran this weekend finished feeling like they could have run faster, and that’s exciting for so early in the season.” She continued, Coach Lang told us that she wanted to bring a lot more runners to this race next year, because, for us, it was a really good way to get racing experience.” Also at the race was alumna and Andover course record holder Melissa Donais ’02. Donais ran for a New Balance sponsored team and placed 3rd overall with a time of 18:29, 34 seconds off the leader. Also in attendance was former teaching fellow and cross-country coach Katie Forbert, who ran for the Greater Boston Track Club and finished 14th in a time of 19:42. Andover and Exeter were the only two high school teams at the Harrier Classic, and Exeter finished fifth overall, proving that it will be Andover’s toughest competition this season. With three runners placing in the top 25, including one finishing a second faster than Captain Faulkner, Exeter showed strength and depth and out-ran Andover at every level of competition. Andover and Exeter will meet three more times this season Andover will host its first annual Developmental Invitational this Saturday. It will be the first race of the season for many, and everyone who is able will race. Five teams, including Exeter, will attend. Races begin at 2:00.