Andover Girls Cross Country scored 31 points in their victory at the Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH) Invitational on Saturday, beating NMH, Cushing, St. Paul’s, and Loomis Chaffee on a hilly, muddy course. Loomis and NMH tied for second place with 65 points each and St. Paul’s finished in fourth with 69 points.
According to Posie Millett ’20, the way runners stuck close to their teammates throughout the race, a strategy called “pack running,” was key to its success.
“The team had an amazing pack for the first mile or so of the race. It was really great to see all of my teammates running ahead of me, and to know that the people behind me were rooting for me, and weren’t from another team. At one point, there were seven or eight of us all running together, and it really kept me in a positive mindset for the race to know that my teammates were there to push me,” said Millett.
Between Andover’s first and seventh runners, there was a gap of 1:55 minutes. By contrast, at the Codfish Bowl last week, Andover’s runners had a far more substantial gap of 2:59 minutes.
Despite a challenging NMH course, pacing and hill training leading up to the race allowed Andover to emerge victorious, according to Natasha Muromcew ’22 and Millett.
Muromcew said, “Our Wednesday workouts are when we train hardest, doing things like Siberia sprints, running up Log Cabin Hill in the Sanctuary, and sprinting around the Great Lawn. We also make sure to get enough rest, so we don’t overtrain our legs.”
Millett added, “We have been doing a lot of hill workouts over the past few weeks, which really prepared us for NMH’s course, as it is mostly in the woods with lots of rolling hills. We also did a tempo workout on this past Wednesday, which helped a lot with pacing and how fast we should be going at what part of the race.”
The team’s support was also a major factor in its success, according to Millett.
“It was so nice that everyone stuck around after they finished to cheer on those who were still coming in. Cross country can be tough sometimes, because it can be a very individual sport, but it is really amazing that we have a team that is so supportive of each other and is ready to cheer everyone on,” said Millett.
The team hopes to continue to work on its pack running strategy, according to Alisa Crueger-Cain ’20 and Captain Rhea Chandran ’19.
In an email to The Phillipian, Crueger-Cain wrote, “I think it’s really exciting how [much] depth we have on the team this early on in the season. We had some really strong close packs and we won! Hopefully for the next race our packs will close the time gap between one another, since cross country is all about pack running.”
Chandran said, “I think that in our pack running we could get stronger and closer together to help us pace ourselves. We’re returning to NMH in three weeks, so were hoping to improve our times and pack running by then.”
Andover will travel to Choate next Saturday to compete in its first dual meet of the season.