Cross Country, Sports

Men’s cross country excited to start injury-free 2010

After a disappointing 2009 season mired by injuries, the Boston University men's cross country team is healthy and ready to make a run at the America East championship.

"This year is unlike the other ones," said junior Peter Gilmore. "We have a lot of guys running well. We have much more depth this year. It's exciting to be working out and having six guys running as fast as we had two guys running last year."

In 2009, the team suffered several injuries to key runners, including senior Craig MacPherson and junior Elliot Lehane, and placed sixth at the AE championships.

"We got hammered," said BU coach Bruce Lehane. "That was a low point."

But this year, the team as a whole is much healthier. Elliot Lehane in particular said that these past few months were the "healthiest summer I've had in a while."

Senior Eric Ashe and junior Rob Gibson will lead the team, followed by a second group of "closely bunched" runners including Lehane, Gilmore, MacPherson and junior Matthew Paulson, coach Lehane said. The team may also receive a boost from freshman Rich Peters, who just recently arrived at BU from England.

The Terriers opened the season Saturday at the Boston College Invitational. The team placed fourth out of nine teams but rested all seven of its top runners. Coach Lehane said it was a beautiful day for running, and he was impressed by senior Ken Haltom's 14th-place finish.

Gilmore said the AE championship, where he hopes to place among the top 10 individual runners, is the team's most important meet of the season.

"We always want to do really well there," Gilmore said. "In past years, it hasn't really come together as we like it to, but this year we have the firepower to do it."

The AE championship on Oct. 30 will be the last of three home meets at Franklin Park for the Terriers. The first one is the AE pre-championship on Sept. 19, followed by the New England Championships on Oct. 9.

But the road to a possible AE championship will not be a smooth one. The Terriers were ranked fourth in the AE preseason coaches' poll, and Gilmore acknowledged that all three of the teams ranked above BU will be very tough to beat.

"The team to beat is Binghamton [University], definitely," Gilmore said of the team ranked first in the coaches' poll.

Coach Lehane agreed that Binghamton, which is bringing back its core group of runners that "completely dominated" the AE championship last year, is the main obstacle.

In the coaches' poll, Stony Brook University is second, followed by the University of New Hampshire.

"Stony Brook has a lot of talent and they prove that," Gilmore said. "[New Hampshire] consistently has really good cross country teams. Whether they were ranked high or not in the poll, some how they always pull it out."

The general sentiment among team members is that the Terriers have the potential win the conference as long as the team reaches its potential.

"We have a group that can do it if we all stay healthy," Ashe said.

"It's not out of reach," coach Lehane said. "People have to run at a level that they haven't quite run at before."

On the whole, Elliot Lehane said that staying healthy "is pretty much vital to our success," adding that while the team is deep, it is not deep enough to sustain several injuries.

Health is important, but it is not the only relevant attribute of a successful team. Gilmore said that this year the team has a different feel to it.

"It's a new team vibe; we're more cohesive," Gilmore said. "We've all matured a lot. We work really well together. We're all running really quick, but more importantly running together."
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