With seven strong and experienced runners and a group of confident JV girls coming up to Varsity, Andover Girls Cross Country looks to redeem itself at the New England Championships this fall.
Captain Hailey Novis ’13 will lead the team this season. Novis’ best time last year was just over 20 minutes. She is currently recovering from injury but still looks to be a strong competitor in all of the team’s races this year.
Novis said, “I think we definitely want the team to run more as a pack this year. If we can make the individual sport of cross country more like a team sport, then we can push and help support each other more during practices and races and hopefully have a really successful season.”
“My personal goal isn’t necessarily to have the best races [myself], but to make sure that the team has the best races. I would love to see our team run more as a pack during races because it really helps push everyone during the race,” she added.
Last year, the Varsity team finished in eighth at the championships, but the JV team won for the 10th year in a row. With such a strong JV program, rising JV runners will be especially important.
Varsity returners include Rachel Wittenberg ’13, MJ Engel ’13, Campbell Howe ’14, Elana King-Nakaoka ’14 and Evelyn Tackett ’15, all of whom ran in the championships last fall. Anoush Shehadeh ’15 is new to the team but will be a strong addition, bringing some good experience from Girls Varsity Track as she won the girls 3000 meters during the outdoor track championships last spring.
Fourteen runners attended preseason and started training hard immediately. The team ran twice a day starting last Thursday, and workouts consisted of hill runs, tempo runs and a couple of distance runs. Andover’s first race is the Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH) Invitational in two weeks.
The team’s head coach is Rebecca Hession, who will be assisted by Nancy Lang. Coach Lang will be working more with novice runners and her guidance will be key in building the future of the team.
Hession hopes to coach the girls to a strong finish.
“In terms of the team, I’m looking forward to working toward a common goal with a fantastic group of young women,” she said.
She added, “If the team can train smart, stay healthy and maintain focus, then the girls will be well positioned to race at their true potential at the championships later in the fall.”