The Boston University cross country team competed at the biggest meet of the season so far, the Paul Short Invitational, hosted by Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., on Friday.
Led by senior Matt Paulson, who finished 32nd overall with a time of 24:43, the BU men placed 15th out of 37 competitive teams.
He was joined in the top 100 by fellow senior Robert Gibson, who finished 74th with a time of 25:15, and freshman Alec Olson, who finished 96th with a time of 25:29.
“I think the first three guys ran really, really well,” said BU coach Bruce Lehane. “Matt Paulson did a good job, he was our first guy again. Alec Olson was probably the biggest surprise. He was a good minute faster than he’s been before, so that was a very pleasant surprise.”
Freshman Kevin Thomas (139th, 25:53) and sophomore Ben Ravetz (156th, 25:58) rounded out the scoring for the men, who finished with a total of 497 points.
Villanova University, which is currently ranked 22nd nationally by the US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, took home the team victory in the eight-kilometer race with a score of 69 points.
Noticeably missing from the men’s team was junior standout Rich Peters, who developed a knee injury in practice during the week. Lehane said there is currently no timetable for his return.
“We don’t know, we’ll have to take it day by day,” Lehane said. “We’ll have to have some patience, we don’t want to just throw him out there in a race and have him hurt. We’ll just have to monitor it. The athletic trainers and BU doctors do a really great job, so we’ll follow their guidance.”
The women were led by junior Monica Adler, who finished 40th with a time of 21:14 in the six-kilometer race.
“Monica did a good job out there,” Lehane said. “She’s historically been better on the track than in cross country, but this is the first season she’s stepped up to running at a high level.”
Junior Danielle Bowen (129th, 22:26), freshman Shelby Stableford (157th, 22:45), senior Nikki Long (169th, 22:51) and freshman Michelle Sumner (245th, 24:07) contributed to the women’s score. BU totaled 740 points to finish 26th out of 40 teams.
The Cornell University women finished first as a team with a score of 55 points.
The field included three of the top 10 teams in the country, including defending national champion Georgetown University (currently ranked fourth nationally by the U.S. Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association), Providence College (ranked seventh) and Villanova University (ranked ninth).
“The women’s field was outstanding, so the competition was very hard,” Lehane said. “Monica ran very well considering.”
Though the women have had a slower start to the season than the extremely successful men, Lehane said he sees promise in his youth-heavy team.
“This is more of a building year,” Lehane said. “Monica’s doing a great job, and some of the other girls have come a long way this year. The women are very much a work-in-progress, and we’re going to continue to watch them improve.”
The men and women will next compete on Sunday at the New England Championships in Westfield. Lehane said he is confident in his team’s chances.
“The men’s team does have strong promise and I think we’ll be very competitive at New England,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll win it, but we’ll have to see.”