Cross Country, Sports

Middle of the pack

The Boston University women’s and men’s cross country teams competed in the America East Championships on Saturday in Williston, Vt., placing fifth and sixth, respectively, out of nine teams.

The women’s team compiled 144 points, losing to Stony Brook University, which took its third-straight conference title with an impressive 28 points. The Seawolves fell short of the University of Maine (89), University of Vermont (98) and University of New Hampshire (103), tied with University at Albany, and beat Binghamton University (150), the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (178) and University of Hartford (267).

Sophomore Katie Matthews led the ladies with a time of 18 minutes and 50.2 seconds on the 5,050-meter course, placing eighth of 80 runners. Twenty-six seconds later, senior captain Sarah Mosser finished 15th with a time of 19:16.20. Junior Kathleen Davies followed in 26th place, recording a time of 19:45.70. Freshman Marita Stressenger (20:51.80, 50th) and sophomore Mariko Takahashi (20:56.40, 53rd) rounded out the BU scorers.

On the men’s side, Binghamton prevailed with 30 total points, topping New Hampshire (60), Stony Brook (95), Albany (119), and Vermont (129). BU finished with 142 total points, topping Maine (158), UMBC (196) and Hartford (256).

A top finisher for BU all season, junior Eric Ashe placed ninth out of 81 runners with a time of 25:58.60 on the eight-kilometer course. Sophomore Peter Gilmore performed strongly with a time of 26:19.50, finishing fifteenth.’ Senior David Polgar crossed the finish line at twenty-eighth, recording a time of 26:57.10.’ Junior Ken Haltom (27:32.00) and freshman Terrence Galasso (27:33.50) finished behind Polgar in 50th and 51st place, respectively.

BU coach Bruce Lehane said he had hoped the teams would have performed better. A number of people ran well, but the number was not enough to place where they had hoped in the competition, he said.’

Without top runner, graduate student Andrea Walkonen, Lehane was pleased with Matthews’s and Mosser’s strong performances. Davies, who was recovering from a foot injury, performed impressively with her circumstances.

‘In running, when you have setbacks like injuries, you can’t expect to compete at a top level,’ Davies said. ‘So it is hard going into a race with that on your mind, but you just have to run given the circumstances.’

On the men’s front, Ashe said, three of the team’s top-five runners were unable to compete due to injury or illness. Lehane noted these losses changed the complexion of the team for this meet. Even Ashe, who led early in the race, had an off day and said he was unhappy with his performance.

‘I should have been closer to the winner but it just was not my day,’ Ashe said. ‘I beat some of the guys that beat me by a significant margin earlier in the season.’

The two teams had anticipated this meet and preparing for it since August.

‘The America East Championship meet is always different than the rest of the races in that there is a lot more pressure,’ Gilmore said. ‘Almost all of your training is geared toward this one race, so it’s a much more intense atmosphere.’

Lehane described the course itself as great, but challenging.’ There were a lot more hills than most courses, and this Saturday the grass was soft from recent rain.

‘If you’re struggling, it really exaggerates that,’ Lehane said.

Luckily, BU had raced the same course earlier in the season and could anticipate the conditions.

‘Normally, we are seeing the course for the first time at conferences,’ Mosser said. ‘Knowing where you can press the pace or where just a half mile remains makes a big difference.’

The teams will conclude their seasons on Nov. 14 at the NCAA Northeast Regional, hosted at BU’s own Franklin Park. It is unlikely BU’s injured runners will return for this race. They will instead be looking to finish the season strong and prepare for seasons to come.’

‘I’m optimistic because we have a home-course advantage and our team is improving and growing closer every day,’ Mosser said.

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