Shehadeh Repeats As NEPSTA Champion

Andover Girls Cross Country capped off an impressive 5-1 season with a third-place finish at Interschols.

“The Varsity team’s hard-fought third-place finish and the JV team’s first-place finish at Interschols demonstrated how deep and strong our team became over the course of the season,” said Head Coach Rebecca Hession. “Not only did the team compete well, but I am always impressed by the support and care they give for one another. The girls continue to prove that they are one of the strongest and fastest teams in the league. I am very proud of their accomplishments and see great promise for next season.”

Andover defeated Choate, St. Paul’s, Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH) and Exeter twice. Its only loss came at the hands of Deerfield.

“We had a great season and I’m sure that next year’s team can build on this year’s success.” said Campbell Howe ’14.

Captain Graydon Tope ’14 provided strong leadership in the team’s run to the Championships.

“[Tope], our Captain, was the best Captain I could ask for. Our team really became a family this year,” said Harshita Gaba ’14.

Tope said, ¨I love to run just as much as they do, and just to share that with wonderful, wonderful girls is an amazing experience. I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing group of girls. They are such an important part of my life.¨

“Seniors play a very important role on the team each season. They really help share the team’s culture and values with younger teammates,” said Hession. “This year, [Tope] was not only the Captain, but also the only four-year Senior on the team. Her enthusiasm for the sport and dedication to the team were infectious. We will miss her next year!”

Tope’s leadership was particularly important since the team returned only two other Varsity Seniors: Gaba and Howe.

“As a Senior, you have more responsibilities to be a supportive teammate after a tough race,” said Gaba. “You’ve ran the routes before, you’ve been around for a while. The coaches also start depending on you more.”

“[The Seniors] served as leaders and role models for all the younger runners,” said Peyton McGovern ’16, who placed seventh at Interschols with a time of 19:45 and earned All-New England Honors.

“Our team is going to miss their enthusiasm and dedication to the team. From leading our team on Friday cheers to giving advice, they are valuable members to the XC program at Andover,” she added.

In addition to strong leadership from its three Seniors, the team saw outstanding performances from its underclassmen as well. Massachusetts Gatorade Runner of the Year Anoush Shehadeh ’15 maintained her undefeated high school Cross Country career, setting multiple course records over the span of the season. She currently holds the Andover course record with a time of 17:18 and won the NEPSTA Division I Cross Country Championship.

“I was kind of nervous to see how my second season of Cross Country would play out. I knew I wanted to run well but I tried not to go into the season with too many expectations to avoid putting pressure on myself,” said Shehadeh, who also placed fourth at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships.

Shehadeh and three-year Varsity runner Evelyn Tackett ’15 will serve as the 2014 Girls Cross Country Co-Captains.

“We have a pretty young team, and we have a lot of depth, so we’re expecting a really good season [next season],” said Tackett. “We did well this year, but one more year of experience will just make us even better, so it should be a successful season.