With a relatively young team in tow, the Boston University women's cross country team is looking to win its first conference title since 2006. Last season, BU tied for fifth place at the America East championships with the University at Albany and placed 21st in the NCAA Northeast Regionals. This year, it was ranked fourth by the preseason coaches' poll. Ahead of them on that list is Stony Brook University, the University of New Hampshire and the University of Maine. BU coach Bruce Lehane feels that his team "might be able to surprise some people" with the outcome of the season. Leading the team this year is junior Katie Matthews, the most consistent runner from last season. Matthews, who was placed on the AE All-Academic team, had a breakout sophomore year, finishing all of her meets as either the first or second Terrier. Placing 18th in the AE championships and 17th at the New England Championships, Matthews was named the most valuable player for the 2009 cross country season. In the hopes of finishing in the top five at the AE championships this year, Matthews spent her summer training. Every day she would do what she called "focused mileage running" &- eight or nine miles per day and working through minor injuries. Also leading the team is its lone senior Kathleen Davies. Davies, who placed 26th at the AE championships in 2009, is looking to place in the top 25 this year and set a good example for the talented young team. "There's a lot of leadership on the team, and everyone bonds really well," Davies said. As for bonding, chemistry should be one of the team's strengths in the upcoming fall season. "They support each other," Lehane said. "That's real important for us in terms of team chemistry. They're a very friendly group of smart kids who are motivated." The Terriers will, however, face some challenges throughout the season. One challenge in particular is finding a strong group of five to lead the way. "Five real solid people is what we need to make this happen," Lehane said. Finding five people to run a strong 5,000 or 6,000 meters will be essential for the team. Matthews agreed, saying that it will be important for others to step up and remember that everyone on the team counts. Another challenge the team faces is the loss of key runner Andrea Walkonen, a three-time All American. Walkonen, who graduated last year, placed first in the two initial races last season and was the AE Female Cross Country Performer of the Week the first two weeks of last season before being sidelined for the back half of the season because of a hip injury. There have been many new additions to the team this season who are expected to make a big impact, including freshman Rosa Moriello. Sophomore Breeanna Potter is also anticipated to run well this season. According to Lehane, they are showing great improvements as they work toward developing into stronger runners. Lehane's main goal for his team is to see each member succeed. "I tend to focus on having the athletes have a positive individual experience," Lehane said. In their first meet at the Boston College Invitational last Saturday, most of the runners achieved personal bests. However, it isn't just about the individual performances that count, according to Lehane. "If people are running really well for themselves, then the team will run well," Lehane said. "Each person is as much a part of the team as they are an individual agent." In their first meet, the team placed sixth out of 10 schools. It was its first of four meets to be held at Franklin Park. Its next race is the AE pre-championship this Sunday.