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Cross Country. Terriers Take Aim at PL Championship on Saturday

Oct. 31, 2014

Championship Central

The Boston University men’s cross country team will compete at the Patriot League Championship on Saturday afternoon at Lehigh. Race time is set for 12 p.m.

The men’s squad was predicted to finish fifth in the preseason poll, which was where the team placed at last year’s conference meet. While the Terriers will be without Rich Peters, whose final cross country season concluded last November, head coach Bruce Lehane thinks he has a stronger team in 2014.

“I think they’re definitely looking to show themselves being competitive as a group,” Lehane said. “Last year, Rich was outstanding and the other guys were further back. This year we have a stronger group. As a team, I think we’re better than we were last year. We have four guys running at a real strong level.”

Two Terriers will be racing in their home state, as senior Ben Ravetz (Blue Bell, Pa.) and junior Paul Gennaro (Abington, Pa.) each grew up about an hour from Lehigh, which is located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Ravetz has two top-five finishes on his 2014 resume, including a second-place showing at the Nassaney Invitational in September.

“For some reason, the Pennsylvania guys love to run in Pennsylvania,” Lehane said. “Ben and Paul are both excited to go home to race.”

The other two BU harriers expected to be part of the top four are juniors Kevin Thomas and Alec Olson. Both athletes had strong outdoor track seasons and are looking to break through in cross country. Olson had one cross country win in 2013 while Thomas has a pair of top-10 finishes this year, including a ninth-place performance at the New England Championships.

“Kevin won at 5,000 meters and Alec won the steeplechase at the conference outdoor meet last year,” Lehane said. “They are better on the track, but they also want to prove to themselves that they’re good at cross country as well.”

Lehane also noted two sophomores in Mitch Russo and Matti Groll that may have an impact on Saturday’s race and find themselves as that crucial fifth runner the Terriers need to score well.

“Mitch has improved by 2:00,” Lehane said. “That’s ridiculous. He’s come along a lot and that gives us hope. Matti has shrugged off his cross country ability, but now, with a little encouragement, he’s getting a better focus. He’s learning the ins and outs of the sport. I think seeing Mitch make that big jump has him looking like ‘Hey, if he can do it, I can do it.’ We’ve got some positive energy going that way.”

Despite being selected to finish fifth on Saturday, Lehane thinks his team will surprise some people and be one of the groups in the hunt for a top-three showing.

“Twenty-five minutes is a milestone for Division I cross country,” Lehane said. “In other words, 5:00 a mile. We have four guys that can do that. If we can get the four guys to do that, I think we’ll do better than our projected finish. I’m hoping we can get top three. Navy has a very strong group – five guys averaging around 24:30 – so that’s probably unrealistic. With the other schools, there are a couple of real strong individual performers, but as total packs, there is a lot of parity among the second, third, fourth and fifth teams. It’s up to us to come out and have our best day. I’m looking forward to the competition.”

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