Kelsey Jamieson ’12 and captain Katie Ellinger ’12 paced Andover Girls Cross Country to a decisive 22-39 victory over Northfield Mount Hermon on Saturday.
Jamieson and Ellinger jumped to the front of the pack from the start, finishing second and third in 20:07 and 20:20, respectively. Close behind was Haley Novis ’13, who finished the race in 20:38. Teamwork played a substantial role in the team’s win, with Andover’s top three runners splitting NMH’s top two runners.
Andover’s runners met many personal goals, with 24 of Andover’s 34 runners running their best race times this season. Rounding out Andover’s top five were Rachel Wittenberg ’13 (21:46) and Margaret Levene ’12 (21:47). Shana Shabazz ’13 ran the course in 26:22, shaving an impressive two minutes off her personal best.
Coach Nancy Lang said, “I knew she [Shabazz] had the potential to do this, and there’s more from her that we can expect.”
Ellinger said, “The last few weeks were many of the girls’ first couple of races, so they didn’t really know how to pace themselves and ran much faster in the first mile before slowing down too much for the rest of the race. This time everyone had a little more experience and had a smarter race, which is part of the learning process.”
The team’s racing strategy, suggested by Lang, was to pick an NMH runner and beat her. Later in the race, each girl was to look for another NMH runner and beat her as well.
Andover trained hard in preparation for the race, running a long distance course on Monday, hills on Tuesday, cross training on Wednesday, track intervals on Thursday and a team run on Friday. Tuesday’s workout on Weir Hill stood out as a memorable one to team members, with some calling it the “longest and steepest” hill they had ever run.
Lang said, “Our idea was to go into this race a little more tired than the week before and put in at least as much effort as the previous week. We weren’t necessarily expecting better times but focused on preparing for Interschols. Every race until Interschols is about learning and refining race strategy, not particularly about improving the time but about improving place.”
After a successful week, the team looks to carry its momentum into the next dual meet against Deerfield at home on Saturday.