Despite strong performances on a slippery course that saw runners trudge through long stretches of puddles, Andover Girls Cross Country fell 30-25 to Phillips Exeter Academy on Saturday. Its season record now stands at 3-2.
The brutal conditions were unexpected at Exeter, which is normally an easy and fast course, but was a competitive advantage for Andover, according to Molly MacQueen ’21 and Marguerite Montagner ’21.
MacQueen said, “The Exeter course was definitely the most technical course we’ve faced so far this season. The trails were all really muddy and slippery, and almost all of the grassy spaces had sitting water, including one area that had water a little less than a foot deep and about 20 feet long. But, I think the team responded really well and had a good attitude going into the race, and didn’t back away from any of the challenges of the course and really used them to our advantage in a lot of spots.”
Montagner said, “The course is pretty flat, so we were expecting it to be fast, but it was challenging because it was so waterlogged… In general, the course was really muddy and wet and some of us slipped, but I think the tough conditions helped Andover, since we had prepared for them. I saw a lot of Exeter runners in front of me trying to go around puddles, and going straight through them gave me a lot of confidence.”
The team has been plagued with injuries all season, but many runners were able to recover and finish strong, according to Montagner.
Montagner said, “We’ve had a fair amount of injuries in our top seven this season, so Exeter was one of the only races we’ve had almost the whole team. It was tough not running as a whole team during the season. But after prioritizing recovery, it was great to have almost everyone back in time for Exeter, and I think we came back really strong as a whole.”
According to Head Coach Patrick Rielly, the team has improved its last mile finishes, which helped it compete well against a challenging Exeter team.
In an email to The Phillipian, Coach Rielly wrote, “The team has improved in so many ways this season, but I’ve been most impressed by their tenaciousness in the final mile of our races. GXC really knows how to compete, and against a strong Exeter team and in difficult conditions, the runners all ran brilliantly for their team and for their teammates.”
The team will continue to train for the Nepsta Division I Interscholastic Championship next Saturday at Avon Old Farms School, where it hopes to find success against teams such as Exeter and Deerfield, two teams that beat Andover in the regular season, according to Montagner.
Montagner said, “Looking towards Interschols, I think the team is really excited to have another shot at Deerfield and Exeter. Both races were pretty close and when we bring everyone back with our full team spirit, I think we have really great chances. We don’t know much about the course, but everyone always gives their all at Interschols, and I can’t wait to see what we can do.”