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Third-place finish by Nikki Long leads Terrier cross country team

The Boston University cross country team showed its depth Saturday as several runners placed within the top 10 at the first meet of the season at the Nassaney Invitational in Smithfield, R.I.

Several top runners for BU, including seniors Rich Peters and Monica Adler and juniors Aaron Somoroff, Ben Ravetz and Rosa Moriello, did not compete this week. However, their absences did not mean the Terriers were short on highly competitive personnel.

Senior Nikki Long had the highest finish of any Terrier, placing third in the women’s race with a time of 18:02.5 on the five-kilometer course. She finished within ten seconds of Sacred Heart University’s Brianna Castrogivanni, who won the race with a time of 17:53.5. Long was named Patriot League Runner of the Week as a result of her strong performance.

“That was a great run from Nikki,” said BU coach Bruce Lehane. “In her past she’s always been stronger on the track but I think she’s put a greater focus on her cross country preparation this year and it’s really shown.”

Sophomore Shelby Stableford placed 29th with a time of 19:15.4. Fellow sophomore Erin Pierce finished 42nd (19:46.2) and junior Ashli Tagoai placed 43rd (19:47.8). Freshmen Felicia Sciortino (63rd, 20:28.4) and Sydney Lagueux (65th, 20:29.9) had strong showings in their BU debuts.

To round out the women, sophomore Jillian Rosati placed 78th with a time of 21:01.8, while freshmen Fiona Doolan and Hannah Purtell finished 84th (21:26.3) and 91st (21:57.1) respectively.

On the men’s side, three Terriers finished within the top 10. Two of them were sophomores, including Kevin Thomas, who finished in sixth with a time of 15:41.3 while his classmate Alec Olson placed seventh, completing the course in 15:42.9.

Lehane said while he was impressed with Thomas’s and Olson’s races, he believes they can improve further in the upcoming weeks.

“They went out with the intention of taking a shot at winning it,” Lehane said. “They’ve progressed … what I kind of found was when someone hasn’t raced for a while, there’s a difference in intensity between training and racing, and until you’ve had a few races, typically … it might take a couple before you get that race mentality back or that edge.

“They looked good, they looked in good shape … They did a good job, but my anticipation is that they will kick it up a level or two as we progress through the season.”

Senior Michael Caputo, one of the most consistent runners last season for BU, placed 10th with a time of 15:52.5.

Caputo, who was named a team captain this past week, was praised by Lehane for his progress and optimism.

“Mike’s progressed well in his time at BU,” Lehane said. “He does compete in cross country at a very consistent level  … He’s the type of guy that always comes to practice with a lot of positive energy and is one of those quiet leader types. He’s got a great sense of humor and he is fun to be around.”

Another sophomore, Paul Gennaro, had a good finish for BU as well, placing 13th with a time of 16:19.0.

Two freshmen, Matti Groll and Mike Ward, excelled in their collegiate debuts. Groll finished in 29th place with a time of16:42.1 while Ward was right behind him in 30th place (16:46.1).

Senior John McKeon’s time of 16:51.3 was good for 32nd overall. Freshmen Ethan Homan (41st, 17:11.7) and Tom Cunningham (46th, 17:21.3) also completed their first collegiate races.

Junior Alex Civitano placed 53rd with a time of 17:49.2 to round out the Terrier competitors.

BU has this upcoming weekend off, but will compete Saturday, Sept. 21 at the Ted Owen Invitational hosted by Central Connecticut State University.

“We’re trying to … get some momentum going,” Lehane said. “Nikki had a good race, and that’s exciting, and that’s fun, and then some of the other people who didn’t race as well, what tends to happen is they get a little mad at themselves and then that starts the process of getting sharper, more focused … racing harder.

“That’s kind of natural progression through a season. The main thing this week will just be to make sure people recover from the race because a 5K in cross country takes a lot of energy out of you. So we need to make recovery and then we’ll make a few good workouts and then we’ll go to round two down at Central Connecticut.”

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