Going into the fall 2012 season’s cross country NCAA Northeast Regional in New London, Conn., junior Rich Peters was determined to make an impact.
By finishing ninth in the men’s 10-kilometer race on Friday and qualifying for the NCAA Championships, he did just that.
For a while in the race, there was a bit of uncertainty as to whether Peters would finish high enough to meet the qualifying standard.
“There was a significant period in the race where he was not in the right position,” said BU coach Bruce Lehane. “He’s a pretty calculating runner, in other words, he’s measuring what has to happen, what he has to do in the race. He was kind of gauging himself by what was going on, and by the time he got to the final 800 meters … with his type of mile speed … he can finish fast.
“He just kept himself close enough that when he got near the finish line, he made a strong move and found himself in the right position.”
Peters finished with a time of 30:29.8. He finished just 2.8 seconds behind fourth place.
Seniors Matt Paulson (28th, 31:07.7) and Robert Gibson (50th, 31:34.1) both finished inside the top-50 to end their successful BU cross country careers.
Lehane praised the seniors on their races.
“They did a great job … I was really happy [with their performance],” Lehane said.
Freshman Kevin Thomas finished 129th with a time of 32:49.1 in his first Regionals race. Senior Elliot Lehane (156th, 33:18.3) was the Terriers’ final contributor to the score.
BU finished ninth out of 34 teams with a score of 372 points. Iona was the overall men’s champion with a team score of 45 points. The ninth-place finish was one place higher than projected and BU also finished 91 points better than any other America East team. Stony Brook University, the closest America East competitor, finished 15th with 463 points.
In the women’s six-kilometer race, junior Monica Adler finished 41st with a time of 20:59.1 to lead the Terriers. Junior Danielle Bowen (88th, 21:52.1) also finished within the top 100.
Lehane applauded Adler’s performance, noting her vast improvement.
“For the first time in her life, [Adler] saw that she could become a strong cross country runner,” Lehane said of Adler’s outstanding season.
Along with Adler, Lehane had some positive comments regarding Bowen’s performance.
“Danielle Bowen ran really, really, really well,” Lehane added. “When you measure people in terms of improvement, and past performance, and obstacles overcome, Danielle is one of the people who you can point to.
“Let’s look at what Danielle has done in terms of her progress and improvement, because she’s running almost a minute a mile faster than not much more than a year and a half ago. That’s a testimony to her spirit and her determination to reach higher … I’m proud of her, and I’m also kind of inspired by her.”
Senior Nikki Long (105th, 22:08.0), sophomore Ashli Tagoai (160th, 23:02.9), and freshman Shelby Stableford (177th, 23:16.2) rounded out the scoring for BU. The women finished 18th out of 37 teams with a score of 571 points.
Providence College took home the women’s title with a score of 46 points.
But the highlight of the day by far was Peters and his top-10 finish.
While the individual bids were not announced until Saturday afternoon, Lehane said there was not too much concern as to whether Peters qualified.
“We pretty much had it cased out that he [had qualified],” Lehane said. “By the time we saw the results … there was no real suspense in our minds.”
Peters is the first BU runner to qualify for the National Championship since 2003.
“It’s kind of a focal point,” Lehane said of Peters’ success. “Within our sport, the National Championship is kind of the epitome of collegiate competition. Making it as an individual is extremely difficult.”
Lehane said Peters has the potential to finish well on the national stage.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Lehane said. “We’ll see what happens.”