The Andover girls cross country team arrived back on the Great Lawn for preseason last Thursday, ready to defend their title as NEPSTA Division I championship. Fifteen returning runners compiled the group for some early training before what looks to be another promising season. Of the fifteen, the majority are Seniors, including Captain Katie Morris ‘07. Last season, Morris ran just seconds over 21 minutes for the 5k, and looks to break that barrier soon. Kit Harris ‘07 and Becca Waldo ‘07, both Under-22 racers, make up the Senior group along with Abby King ‘07. King is running for the cross-country team for the first time this year, but has extensive experience with long-distance track events. As this year’s captain of the defending NEPSTA Outdoor Track Champions, King will be a vital addition to the lineup. Unfortunately, Erika Roddy ’07, who placed sixth overall at New England’s and first for Andover, was unable to attend preseason but hopes along with her teammates to be up and racing soon. Several more seniors will be welcomed back to the team upon the opening of the regular season. The underclassmen show just as much potential, compiling over half of last year’s top seven, in addition to numbers eight through eleven. Top times come from Abby Levene ‘09 and Breezy Jordan ’09 with PR’s of 19:22 and 19:39 respectively. Also critical to the team’s success will be Berol Dewdney ’09, Sara Ho ’08, Sarah Cohan ’08 and Anne Elder ’09. Head Coach Nancy Lang can be counted on to cultivate strong runners this season with her balanced training style. While tailoring workouts to an individual level and pushing each runner to their highest performance, Coach Lang continues to stress the other elements of preparation. Beginning already in preseason, her emphasis on diet, hydrations and sleep is sure to keep the team healthy, and her genuine care for each team member beyond the runs is sure to add to team chemistry. With “NEPSTA 2005 Girls Cross Country Champions” both on their minds and literally written on the shoulders of their t-shirts, the girls have defense of their title as motivation for this season. The road to Interschols begins with a season opener at Franklin Park, where between seven and fifteen top runners will compete with both college and high school teams on a fast and fun course. This first away meet is September 23rd, followed by a home meet the next week on Saturday the 30th—the Andover Invitational. All healthy and able runners will be competing on our home course at this event, where fans are always much appreciated.