Andover Girls Cross Country’s near-perfect 16-47 victory over Deerfield this past Saturday marked the team’s exact two year anniversary as an undefeated team. The last time it lost a league race was against Deerfield in 2013. The win not only pushed Andover’s record to 4-0, but also propelled the team one step closer to sealing off two consecutive undefeated seasons.
Carmen Bango ’16 and Michaela Jones ’18 have been crucial to Andover’s success, consistently securing low points by finishing first and second interchangeably. Running as a pair, they have pushed each other to improve throughout the season, which has allowed both of them to put up times in the 18-minute range.
Head Coach Rebecca Hession said, “[Bango and Jones] are really close in working off of each other and helping each other run the best race they can.”
Captain Peyton McGovern ’16 said, “Definitely [Bango’s and Jones’s] strong performances have played a huge role along in our success.”
McGovern has also played a key role in leading Andover this season. Although she sat out for most of the season due to a back injury, she raced for the first time this fall at Deerfield, finishing within 37 seconds of Jones and Bango with an impressive time of 18:42.
Despite her inability to race until recently, McGovern has also helped to foster team energy and to encourage her teammates on the course.
Jones said, “[McGovern] has been so supportive, coming to all of our meets and cheering us on.”
Marina Hunt ’17 and Eva Chilson ’18 have both stepped up this season, proving to be key runners within the varsity pack. Hunt, who was injured for all of last season, quickly emerged as Andover’s number three runner in McGovern’s absence.
McGovern said, “Some of our runners have also greatly improved from the 2014 season. For example [Hunt] and [Chilson] are running super well and playing a crucial role in our success. I think the extra year of experience mixed with their hard work and determination has really helped them.”
While Andover’s star runners have certainly helped to secure the team’s undefeated record, the team also largely contributes its success to its depth, unity and passion for the sport.
Celeste Traub ’18 said, “I think that the main thing that has helped the team to be so successful is our team spirit and positivity. All of the runners are very supportive of each other and come to practice with a positive attitude.”
“It’s important to have a love for the sport and each other to really succeed. I think that is why our team has been so successful this year. Everyone on the team loves running and is always ready and excited for practices and meets,” said Jones. “I have noticed that some of the other teams we compete against don’t seem as close or as excited to race, and I think our closeness and devotion to the team is what makes us so successful.”
Throughout the season, Andover has focused on improving more as a team than as individuals.
Morgan Rooney ’17 said, “People see cross country as an individual sport, which in many ways it is, but we all work together, whether it’s pushing a teammate during a workout to do another hill or pushing your pack to go faster in the last few meters of the race.”
Parker Tope ’16 said, “We’ve been focusing on only doing workouts not individually but in a pack to strengthen our connectedness and feel each other running which has helped so much.”
Coach Hession said, “[The team] knows what it means to work hard – they know what it means to work together as a pack – and certainly our Varsity team has that.”
Andover looks to continue its winning streak on Saturday against its toughest competition of the season, Exeter.