Cross Country, Sports

With strong new talent, Women’s XC team aims to take back Patriot League crown

Alexandra Vellekoop during the 5K race at the 2022 Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown. The BU women’s cross country team will compete in the Patriot League Championship at Lewisburg, PA on Oct. 29, 2022. ELIZA NUESTRO/DFP STAFF

After over six weeks of competition, the Boston University women’s cross country team has wrapped up its regular season. In a season full of personal bests and complete team efforts, the Terriers now have their sights set on bringing home the Patriot League Championship. 

The women’s team opened its season on a high note Friday, Sept. 2 at the Suffolk Short Course Classic. Finishing second out of 15 teams, Boston only trailed behind Northeastern University. 

BU’s lineup for the 3.1K race consisted of mainly first-year talent in order to acclimate them to collegiate running. Freshman Vera Sjöberg was the first Terrier to cross the finish line, placing seventh overall with an 11:06.2. Following suit, the remaining scoring four were all freshmen — Olivia Dodds, Addison Schmidt, Madeleine Finton and Candace Tytler. 

“I definitely think that this freshman class is the most talented freshman class we’ve ever had on the team. So it’s really exciting to see that,” BU graduate student Veronica Kriss said in an interview. “The older girls really like to lead by example, so doing all the little things and being good examples for the younger girls.” 

Exactly three weeks later, the Terriers competed at the same course for Boston College’s Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown. Kriss showcased her experience in the main 5K event with a 30th place finish, posting an 18:07.0. 

Sjöberg trailed closely behind. For their performances, both Kriss and Sjöberg took home Patriot League honors. Kriss won Athletic Female Runner of the Week, and Sjöberg won Female Cross Country Rookie of the Week. As a team, the Terriers narrowly defeated fellow Patriot League rival Bucknell University by 11 points to finish 12th out of 19 teams. 

“I have the very special kind of privilege of having six years to develop as an athlete because I had so many kind of setbacks and injuries my first few years, but that gives me a special advantage,” said Kriss on her success this season. “I definitely feel like I’m a better runner than I’ve ever been before.”

In the open 5K, freshman Alexandra Vellekoop led the women’s team, running the third-best female Patriot League time. Senior Anna Kavanagh finished 85th overall to set a personal best of 20:15.7. 

The following week, the Terriers had one of their most successful meets at Lehigh University’s Paul Short Invite. All nine BU finishers set personal records in the Gold 6K to lift the team to a 16th-place finish in a competitive field of 46 teams. 

Mimicking a conference preview, three other Patriot League rivals — Army West Point, Lehigh and Lafayette College — were also in attendance. Boston finished on top out of the three, most notably edging out Army West Point by 36 points. 

“It definitely was a good confidence-building moment, but we know that there’s some really talented runners in this conference,” said associate head coach Jordan Carpenter. “They’re gonna give us their best, and it’s going to take a lot to come home with the title.”

The Terriers were led by sophomore Daisy Liljegren who placed 11th overall with a 19:49.7. Finishing in the top three percent of runners, Liljegren dropped two and a half minutes off of her previous best 6K time, which she set during her freshman year. A no-brainer, she was named Patriot League Female Cross Country Runner of the Week. 

“(The award) means a lot. I know that’s a really high honor in the Patriot League, and I don’t take that lightly,” said Liljegren. “It’s nice to see that the work we’re doing on the track and just on our runs are really paying off.”

Kriss, graduate student Meghan Convery, Sjöberg and freshman Samantha Seabury rounded out BU’s top five in the main event. In the open 6K, Vellekoop finished first for Boston placing 47th out of 314 runners. 

Finishing off their regular season, the Terriers raced in a pair of meets on Saturday, Oct. 15th. The first race kicked off in the morning at the University of Virginia’s Panorama Farms Invitational. 

In the 5K race, Liljegren had another impressive individual effort, placing 6th out of 173 runners. With a time of 16:51.2, she shaved over two minutes off of her previous best 5K time. For this, Liljegren was awarded her second consecutive Female Runner of the Week honor. Of the remaining top five for BU, three others also set new 5K personal bests: Kriss with a 17:39.0, Convery with an 18:18.2 and freshman Schmidt with an 18:46.2. 

“The change was definitely just a sharper focus on my training,” said Liljegren on her evolution this season. “Once things started to click, I was able to dedicate a lot more focus and energy towards more specific training.” 

The Terriers were the lone Patriot League competitors in this meet, but they beat out crosstown rival Boston College by 12 points to finish 10th out of 18 teams. Virginia, the host team, comfortably won with a 32-point effort. 

In the latter half of the day, nine different Terriers from the women’s team competed in the 22-team Suffolk Invitational. Their success carried over as they placed second behind only Northeastern. Finton was the first Terrier to cross the 6K marker, running to a third-place finish. The remainder of the scoring five all placed within the top 16.

The women’s team has had immense success in recent program history. After falling just short of the Patriot League conference title last season, the Terriers look to secure their third title in four years this weekend. Their top seven runners will hash it out Saturday, Oct. 29th. in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. The 6K championship race is set for 10 a.m.

“Our biggest goal of the season was we want to show up on the starting line on Saturday at the Patriot League Championship,” said Carpenter. “If we run the race that we’re capable of, we’re going to leave really happy and come back to Boston with another Patriot League title.” 

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