Andover Girls Cross Country started off the season strong with a 4th place finish out of 22 teams in the Manchester Invitational, an annual cross country event in New Hampshire. Charlotte Whitehurst ’22 finished first place in the Girls Varsity team section of the 5K race with an impressive time of 19:00 minutes.
According to Izzy Alvarez ’23, the team was excited to give its best while racing on such a highly esteemed and difficult course.
Alvarez said, “It was our home opening race of the season, so [there was] a lot of excitement going into the race. It is voted New England’s toughest cross country course, so that was really fun to conquer and to finish knowing that course had such a large title.”
Caroline Empey ’22, similarly to Alvarez, acknowledged the challenges and obstacles that stood in the team’s way, however, they didn’t stop Andover from having a competitive and fun race.
“It was a really hard course… and there was 400 feet of elevation. The second mile was up the back of a ski hill. There were things we had to hop over, so it was difficult, but it was a good day,” Empey said.
After a day of tough racing, Empey notes that many of the runners ran incredible races and believes that the team was pleased with the outcome.
“I was really nervous going into it, and I think some of the other girls were nervous because it was this huge race. I think there were like 160 girls in our race alone. We never race that big. It was really fun [though]. Charlotte won the entire day. She won with 19 minutes in a 5K. Tiffany [Tang ’22] was 11th, Patricia [Tran ’24] was 42nd, I was 47th, and then we had two other girls right after. I think we did really well, we were [in] the top four overall,” Empey said.
The last year has certainly been a challenge for many teams who were unable to practice. Girls Cross Country was no exception, but according to Alvarez, the team was still able to perform well and identify areas that require further practice and refinement.
Alvarez said, “I mean it’s the first race, you don’t really know what to expect, and for most of us, at least I know for me, this is my first race in two years… since Lower Year we weren’t allowed to race due to Covid[-19]. It was kind of a blind entry because we were all sort of disconnected from racing for a while. I’m very proud of everyone for going out there and doing their best. There were definitely so many areas in which throughout the season we will work on, but right now I’m happy with how it went. I’m very proud of everyone.”
Elizabeth Zhang ’22 and Alvarez both point out how bonding between teammates makes a more supportive and comfortable environment.
“Usually, we all do a team dinner before our race on Saturdays. The girls who are racing will write each other letters called Secret Sights, you don’t know who the letter is from and there are little notes of encouragement,” Alvarez said.
Zhang added, “Right before the race, we will do our team cheer… I can really feel the energy. The day before the race, our entire team did a really easy campus run, and then we ran down the steps of [Samuel Phillips Hall] just cheering. It was just a really great bonding experience and it really pumped our blood up for the next day.”
Looking towards the future, Zhang stated that the team should work out logistics whether it be diets, sleep, or exercise.
“I think [we need to work on] working hard during the workouts and taking easy days easy and just remembering to get enough sleep and eat healthily. I think overall, the girls are doing really great. I think everyone is on top of their game right now. When school gets a little busier, I think we all have to remember to watch out for each other,” Zhang said.
Andover Girls Cross Country’s next race will be the N.M.H Invitational this Saturday at 4:15 PM.
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