During what Andover Girls Cross Country describes as its “rebuilding year,” the Andover/Exeter meet will serve as the team’s final test before the NEPSTA Division I Cross Country Championships (Interschols). With a 1-2 dual meet record, the team hopes to rebound from its second place finish to Phillips Exeter Academy earlier this season.
Co-Captain Ashley Song ’23 has fond, personal memories of the storied rivalry. In particular, she reflected back to racing against her Exeter revisit guide in last year’s match-up.
“When I revisited Exeter to decide which school to go to, I ran with my revisit because we both did cross country. I remember during A/E we were both pushing each other. That year, it was on our course, and it wrapped around the Great Lawn, and we were really pushing each other on that final stretch. It was grueling, painful, and so invigorating…I think that was a core memory of mine about our rivalry and competition with Exeter. I will always remember that. Because of our schools’ relationship, it’s like running with someone you know but you also don’t know,” said Song
Head Coach Keri Lambert wants the team to fully embrace the Non Sibi spirit through pack running.
Coach Lambert feels that the pain of the race will ease with the support of teammates, ultimately producing more desirable results.
“I would like the team to really lean into a pack running mentality. Several of our team members could run most of the race together if they commit to adjusting their paces slightly and sticking with one another. Some gaps will open up in the final mile, but being able to really draw from one another’s strength during the first half of a race can make a 5k feel so much more manageable and can lead to faster times. Our racing roster has changed so much from race to race due to injury and sickness that we haven’t been able to really put pack running into practice as I would like, so hopefully this final dual affords us a good chance to do so,” said Lambert.
Having already visited Exeter two weeks ago, the team is heading into this Saturday’s meet with some familiarity with the course. However, Song hopes that kinder course conditions will lead to more faster races for the team.
Song said, “The day that we ran at Exeter…the course was still pretty soggy, and there were some muddy parts because it was just after rain from two or three days prior. I think that made it a little harder for people to run faster, but Exeter’s course is not super hilly. I won’t say it’s a super fast course but it’s a pretty fast course. I’m hoping that people will be able to push a little more, especially because they will be more familiar with the course. I don’t know if people will PR or not, but I think everyone will be pushing.”
According to Zoe Von Eckartsberg ’26, the team’s mentality is not just centered around A/E results. Instead, the team also wants to focus on preparing for Interschols the following week, where it will face the defending champions Exeter for the third and final time this season.
“For me personally, I just want to run and have fun. I’m not looking for a specific time or place I want to get. I just want to have fun on the course. As a team, I think we’re going to push ourselves a little harder to get ready for Interschols,” said Von Eckartsberg.
Andover Girls Cross Country’s bout at Exeter will begin at 3:35pm on Saturday.