Andover Girls Indoor Track and Field sent five members to compete at the UMass Flagship Invitational on Sunday. In addition to attendance at the invitational, the team hosted Governor’s Academy, Marianapolis, Landmark, and Wilbraham & Monson on Wednesday, taking first place in the quad meet by 56.5 points.
Held at New Balance’s TRACK in Boston, the UMass Flagship Invitational gave top high school athletes the opportunity to compete unattached at a college meet. According to Co-Captain Anabelle Biggs ’23, who competed in the 200-Meter and Long Jump, the athletes chosen for the meet were grateful for the chance to compete at a higher level, eager to improve their times.
“We went in with the intention of just being able to run at such a great facility because it’s very new and they have a banked track, which athletes prefer to run on rather than a flat track. So we went to just see how much we’ve improved and get some good marks and times down,” said Biggs.
Racing against older, more experienced athletes in high school can be challenging and stressful. Lauren Herlihy ’25, who ran in the 1000-Meter, explained how the team was able to use the pressure as motivation to perform better.
“This meet was different than a regular meet because we were racing against college kids, and it was on a bigger stage against higher competition. My teammates and I rose to the occasion and performed at a higher level,” said Herlihy.
Also running the 1000-Meter, Hayden Fischer ’25 shared a similar sentiment to Herhily. The meet forced teammates to find a balance between focus on personal performance and taking advantage of the surrounding competition.
“It’s definitely important to be competitive, but also run your own race, so not letting anyone get into your head too much. And just making sure that you’re focused on your race, but also competing with the people around you. I think since a lot of these collegiate athletes are really fast, it was fun to push myself to run faster,” said Fischer.
The five athletes felt the support of the whole team at the invitational. Competing teammates received numerous well wishes and good-luck messages prior to the meet, showing the positivity and strong bonds within the team, according to Biggs.
“I took away how special our team is, even those who weren’t there. A lot of our athletes who were there got messages from other teammates who weren’t there saying, ‘Good luck,’ or, ‘I’m rooting for you,’ and, ‘Thinking of you,’ and things like that. There were a lot of positive messages from people who weren’t even there,” said Biggs.
Since Wednesday’s meet was the first full-team meet since mid-December, it served as a check-in to see the current standing of the team. Kendall Toth ’24 explained how the team’s determination and training throughout the winter break led to the significant victory, accumulating 99.5 of 172 points total.
“I think our coaches just really wanted us to compete and give our best and see where we are because a lot of us just came back from break. Everyone has different fitness levels, so today was getting information, but giving it the best we can. We have money in the bank from all of our training and trying to do as much as we can and compete and win,” said Toth.
Although it was a larger meet against four schools, there was still room for Andover runners to have healthy competition against each other, according to Fischer. For example, the team had six members in the top ten of the 55-Meter race, with a standout performance from Wylie Roossien ’26, who tied the Junior class record.
“It’s definitely a competitive race within the Andover community. They put a lot of people that are around the same level in a race together so they could compete against each other. I think just some healthy competition within the Andover community is good, and helps build that community,” said Fischer.
Looking forward, the team hopes to continue strengthening individual performances and interpersonal bonds. Toth highlighted the continuous development of trust between coaches and athletes.
“I think [we’ll work on] continuing to build and continuing to remain focused and be patient with the process. [We have to] trust the coaches, trust each other, get closer as a community. And continue to compete and continue to get better and grow and get after it this season,” said Toth.
Andover Girls Track and Field will host Lawrence High School, Austin Prep, and Landmark next Wednesday.