Downing ’08 and Dewdney ’09 Lead Andover; Team Overpowers NMH With Speed & Depth

The Girls Cross Country Team gave visiting parents something to cheer about. Not only did it take the first 14 places, the girls swept NMH for a perfect score of 15-50. A lack of competition from NMH for Andover’s top varsity and JV runners could not hinder performances; the team recorded 14 best times. Racing at Andover proved rewarding for regular competitors looking to improve their times on the home course. Captain Jen Downing ’08 continued to shave seconds off her personal best at home with her time of 18:42, as did Berol Dewdney ’09, who finished in 19 minutes flat, and Aubrey Zimmerling ’09 in 20:05. Senior Kie Watanabe improved to 20:24 despite feeling under the weather from the rigors of the week. She had a strong start and “was able to keep [the front runners] in sight for a long time while feeling extremely good. It was a pleasant surprise after a tough week and low expectations, and since I had no strategy, I decided to try pushing myself.” Vivian Wehner ’09, whose constant improvement has led to a personal best in almost every race this season, also used her surroundings to her advantage. Wehner described her racing style as trying to “keep an almost constant pace…but then I keep getting closer and finally end up passing people. It’s hard for me to go fast, but when I see someone in front of me whom I know I can go faster than, they pull me up.” Wehner’s determination enabled her to stay ahead of the first NMH girl to take the 14th spot and clinch Andover’s perfect score. Several of the day’s exhilarating performances came from Andover girls who have not been racing regularly, but who made the effort to participate on Parents’ Weekend because it is one of the season’s major races. Coach Lang designates the Andover Invitational, Parents’ Weekend, and Exeter as races in which all team members that are physically ready should race. As a result, many of the girls who have taken time off from competing get the chance to demonstrate their improvement in the form of personal- or season-best times. Ali Flanders ’09 broke the 23-minute mark with her time of 22:43 and Cora Lewis ’09 improved to 23:18 after taking time off with a hip problem. Andover’s next race will take place at Deerfield on Saturday. However, the team’s sights are set on the Andover-Exeter race next week. Anticipation is running high; Andover has yet to race against the full Exeter team.