Monica Adler and Rich Peters might have had different paths before joining the Boston University cross country team, but there are plenty of similarities in the impact the star juniors have had on the Terriers squad.
Adler, a Manchester native, did not begin running until junior high.
“I started running back in middle school,” Adler said. “It was one of the only sports teams offered. But I joined, and I had a great coach that got me really excited about the sport and had fun teammates, so I just kind of stuck with it.”
Peters began running at a similar age, growing up several thousand miles away in Bristol, England. He started running after seeing the success his brother had in the sport.
“I discovered the talent when I was younger,” Peters said. “And from there I just kept going.”
Before transferring to BU, Adler competed for Dartmouth College, where she broke the school record in the 1000 meters. She said there were multiple factors in her decision to run as a Terrier, but the welcoming nature of the team played a large role in her choice.
“The team was really down to earth and I felt comfortable, which was really important to me,” Adler said.
She additionally said that BU coach Bruce Lehane was a factor in her selection.
“The coach was really welcoming, and he has a really great record with a lot of athletes,” she said.
Peters had similar praise for Lehane. However, he put his primary reason for choosing BU in quite simple terms.
“It’s just a cool place to be,” he said.
This season, both Peters and Adler have led their respective teams on the path to success. Lehane has continually praised each runner throughout the season, specifically noting that Adler has “broken into a new level of running” this year. Adler attributes her success to putting in extra work in the offseason.
“I ran a lot more than I’m used to over the summer,” Adler said. “I kind of tried to push my limits a little more than I have in a while.”
A high point in the season occurred on Oct. 7 at the New England Championships where both Peters and Adler were named America East Performers of the Week. Adler placed first in the five-kilometer race with a time of 17:00.79, and Peters returned from a knee injury to take second place with a time of 24:21.04 in the eight-kilometer race.
Peters, who also took home Performer of the Week honors after his first-place finish at the University of New Hampshire Invitational on Sept. 14, said the knee injury did not have much of an impact on his performance. He is the only member of the BU squad to have received the honor twice.
“[The injury] meant coming out for four or five days, and I just had to be careful from there and make sure I didn’t make it worse,” Peters said. “It wasn’t too much of a big deal.”
With the Northeast Regional in New London, Conn., approaching on Nov. 9, both are looking to have an impact.
“Regionals is going to be very challenging,” Adler said. “We’re hoping to just make a strong showing there. We’re just looking to race pretty well, and have a great last meet.”
After placing 49th at 2011’s Northeast Regional, Peters is looking to push even further.
“[Last year] was terrible,” Peters said. “I’ve never had a good performance at Regionals.
“I’m aiming to qualify as an individual to go to Nationals, which is usually in the top 15 in Regionals … that’s a big aim for me, and I feel like as long as I step up, I’m safe.”
Adler said that she had no doubts about Peters’ ability to achieve such a goal. She was quick to praise her teammate for the success that he has had already.
“Rich … he’s really one of the top athletes that I think BU has,” Adler said. “He’s just an incredible runner … He’s really modest about [his success], but he’s determined and works really hard. It’s really a privilege to have someone like him on our team and in our program because it gives us all confidence.
“He’s really just an inspiration to all of us. He gives our team so much energy because of his success, and he doesn’t look down on anyone on our team. He’s very encouraging all the time, so I think we all feel really privileged to have him around.”
Peters expressed a similar respect for Adler.
“I could tell in the first few weeks that she was a very strong runner,” Peters said of Adler. “I know she’s developed and she had a great indoor season last year and there’s more to come this year.
“She’s great, she’s committed and she’s a big part of the team.”
Off the track and cross country course, Adler and Peters devote most of their time to ensuring success in their classes. A member of the physical therapy program, Adler spends much of her time learning about injuries and human physiology. Peters, an advertising major and computer science minor, said that the combination of classes and time spent running leaves very little time for other hobbies.
“Running takes up a big part of my time,” Peters said. “Trying to balance academics with running doesn’t leave you with much time.”
Despite the time-consuming nature of the sport, neither said that they have any regrets about devoting so much time to it.
“[It’s] a sense of achievement, I guess, and just something that I’m committed to,” Peters said. “It’s sort of rewarding when I do well.
“I’m happy. I’m happy with where I am.”