Sports

Girls Cross Country Starts Season With “Fun Run” as Final Tune-up

The Girls Cross Country team broke out of the prep school bubble. And dominated. Last Saturday, the girls didn’t put on uniforms or racing spikes. They raced in the 14th Danny Oates Memorial 5K road race in Bedford. Traditionally, the squad runs in the Harrier Classic, a race filled with college teams, clubs and a few high schools, for its first race of the season. The race was moved back a week this year, however, forcing Andover to find a new venue. But Head Coach Nancy Lang transformed the disappointment into an opportunity. Fast and fun, a road race presented the perfect substitute for the season opener. Over 200 runners participated, ranging in ages from 11 to 89. The course wound through local neighborhoods and was entirely on the road. There were some hills, but according to Aubrey Zimmerling ’09, “overall it was about ten times easier than our home course.” Looking at the race as a fun, early season chance to readjust their legs to racing, the Andover girls entered the race eager and relaxed. “There was no pressure at such a low-key race; we had nothing to lose, and we went out there to just have some fun. One of Coach Lang’s goals was to have all of us start with a smile and end with one as well,” Zimmerling said. For the past several years, Andover has led the New England Prep School league, winning the past three championships. Last year, Andover even took the top three spots in the varsity championship race. But on Saturday, Andover proved that it can dominate outside of its league, too. Running a comfortable and controlled race, Stephanie Moroney ’09 faded into a pack of male runners and pulled away from the other women. The top female finisher, Stephanie was only preceded by 15 men. Her time, 19:32, was 14 seconds faster than the next female to cross the line. Captain Berol Dewdney ’09 and Georgina Norton ’09 raced tactically. The girls paced off of each other for the entire race, finishing in together in 19:54 and 19:55. The race marked Norton’s first time breaking under the 20-minute barrier. And she claims that the milestone can partially be attributed to her strategy: “Berol and I worked together, and the team really was a unit of encouragement during the race.” Running in pairs was an Andover theme. Zimmerling and Caitlin Kingston ’11 ran together to cross the line in 20:18 and 20:19. Tavie Abell ’10 and Becca Macrae ’09 also used each other for company and encouragement. Like for the other pairs, the strategy paid off. They finished in 20:29 and 20:30, marking Macrae’s first time under 21 minutes. Fueled by outside competition, Annie McDonough ’09 finished with her signature sprinter’s kick to edge out a runner and record a time of 21:27. Her finish sealed Andover’s one through eighth place sweep of the 15-18 year-old age group, not including Moroney’s overall win. Jess Siemer ’10 finished in 22:30 to complete Andover’s dominance. She finished 12th for the 15-18 year-olds. This Saturday, Andover will host the annual Developmental Invitational on its home course. Norton said, “I can’t wait to get on our course and see what the other teams have this year.”