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Running to Compete

Cross country Terriers head to first Patriot League Championships

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The Boston University cross country teams are hoping to capture their first Patriot League Championship tomorrow at the competition, which is being held at Lafayette College, in Easton, Pa.

Bruce Lehane, head coach of both the men’s and women’s teams, says the transition from the America East League to the Patriot League has presented the two teams with different challenges.

“On the men’s side, it’s more competitive,” he says. “There are three or four programs in the Patriot League that really aim to excel in cross country, and in America East that wasn’t the case. However on the women’s side, it’s exactly the opposite.”

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Rosa Moriello (CGS’13, SMG’15) has won both races she’s competed in this season, including the New England Championships.

The Terriers make their Patriot League Championship debut following a fourth place finish at last month’s New England Championships, which featured a field of 41 men’s and 43 women’s teams. It was the second consecutive year the Terrier men placed fourth at the event, held in nearby Franklin Park. Strong finishes by Rosa Moriello (CGS’13, SMG’15) and Rich Peters (CGS’12, COM’14) led to each being honored with the Patriot League Runner of the Week Award.

Moriello became the third straight Terrier to win the women’s title at the New England Championships, and Peters reprised his 2012 position as the male runner-up.

“I wanted to defend BU’s title at this event for the third year in a row,” Moriello says. “I kept telling myself that I wanted it more then anyone else. It may not have been true, but you need to be mentally tough out there. You can be the hardest worker, but if you’re not confident in yourself, chances are you won’t win.”

Competing against Patriot League runners at the NE Championships reaffirmed Moriello’s belief that BU has a shot at winning the conference title Saturday. “From our first team meeting, I’ve been telling the girls we have a great chance to win the conference,” she says. “I did a lot of research by comparing our team’s top five average times with the other schools’ top performers, and I really believe we can do it. We’re all excited to begin racing in a new conference and show everyone what we’ve got.” A win in Pennsylvania means an automatic NCAA bid.

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Both the men’s and the women’s cross country teams were picked to finish fourth in the Patriot League preseason poll.

Lehane say he expects strong finishes from both Moriello and Peters tomorrow, noting that both are capable of individually qualifying for nationals.

“The best cross country runners are the ones who can adjust throughout a race,” Lehane says. “They’re able to assess not only how their bodies feel, but how they feel considering the ups and downs of the course, and they can shift gears accordingly. Both Rosa and Rich have shown that they know how to manage themselves, and I’m confident that they’re good enough to make it to nationals.”

In the days leading up to the Patriot League Championships, Lehane has been stressing the importance of pacing to his runners. “Fatigue is a lot like a credit card,” he says. “If you incur a lot of early debt, you’ll have to carry the interest the rest of the way, and you’ll pay for working too hard too early.”

Two-time All-America track athlete Peters, who finished second in the mile at the 2012 NCAA championships, is a versatile runner. He led the men’s team to a ninth-place finish at the Northeast Regionals last year, and became the first male BU student to qualify for the NCAA tournament since 2003.

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Rich Peters (CGS’12, COM’14) is looking to advance to the NCAA Championships for the second straight season.

“Rich comes from England, where there is a strong cross country tradition,” Lehane says. “He’s an aggressive runner who really embraces the challenge of getting ahead of the pack at the start of a race, but he knows his body well enough to save energy for the final stretch.”

Although track is his priority, says Peters, “I love cross country and feel I have the range to be fairly competitive over the longer distances, probably because of my experiences as a runner in England.”

Both Moriello and Peters credit Lehane with providing the right balance of intense workouts and recovery runs throughout their training regimen, but Lehane attributes much of the program’s success to each athlete’s individual drive.

“It’s a somewhat unnatural activity, to run yourself to exhaustion,” he says. “The desire to do it is deeply ingrained within the identities of these athletes. It’s nothing a coach instills and it can’t be manufactured.”

The Boston University cross country teams will compete at the Patriot League Championships Saturday, November 2, at Lafayette College’s Metzgar Athletic Complex, in Easton, Pa. The men will race in the 8,000-meter at 11 a.m., and the women will race in the 6,000-meter at noon.

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