Cross Country's Westphal Steps Up for Eagles
Oct. 10, 2013
Written by senior Kristen Scott
"I didn't expect it," said Liv Westphal. She's referring to her fifth-place finish in the 5K at the European Under-23 Championships in July. Westphal didn't expect to place 12th at the NCAA Cross Country Northeast Regional last year either. With two ACC Cross Country Performer of the Week awards already on her resume this season, Westphal should be getting used to her success.
"I didn't even know you could win it twice. It's a great honor in such a competitive conference," she said.
A junior on the cross country team this year, Westphal was born in Milan, Italy, and moved when she was four to Limoges, France, where she grew up. After winning two national junior championships in France, Westphal decided she wanted to come to the United States.
"I always wanted to have an international experience," she said. "I chose BC because it has a very high standard for academics and the States allow me to run at a really high level."
Westphal's decision to come to Boston College involved more transition than most freshmen typically endure.
"Here, I had to work double the amount of other students as an international student. Everything seemed easy in high school, but here I had to work a lot harder," said Westphal. Not only did she have to work harder to adjust to the higher level of competition presented in college athletics, but she also had to acclimate to constantly speaking a foreign language and getting used to a new culture. During this period of challenging transition, Westphal looked to former BC cross country star Jillian King for encouragement.
"Jillian specifically helped me to improve and see that it is possible," Westphal said. The energetic spirit that King brought to the team during Westphal's first two years at BC inspired her. "She was so kind and such a great talent--like she was born to run," said Westphal.
Since King and her sister Caroline have graduated, Westphal sees an opportunity to capitalize on a new role within the team.
"Now that I am a junior, it's time to step up a little bit," said Westphal. In addition to the team goals of placing in the top three at ACCs and making it to Nationals, Westphal has set extremely high expectations for herself. One of her main goals is to stay in the top 10 in the ACC. Westphal finished ninth last year.
"The ACC is showing a lot of strength this year. Duke and Florida State have a very good recruiting class," said Westphal. "I also want to improve my 82nd place at Nationals. Being All-American would be a dream." To be an All-American, you must finish in the top 40 at the race.
Westphal doesn't stay on the topic of individual goals for long. For her, the best part about running cross country at BC is the positive way her teammates push each other.
"I feel like I belong to something," Westphal said. "In France, there's nothing like this. [BC] is like a little town, and you get so involved in the college and team spirit." Talking about her experience on the team, Westphal can't help but exude energy and positivity. "I always remember what [head coach] Randy [Thomas] said to us the day before Nationals, `Just have fun'. Because obviously we put so much into running. It's a lot of pain," she says with a laugh. "And it's also a lot of joy, but at the end he says just have fun, because it is a passion."
It's Westphal's passion that has pushed her to have an irreplaceable experience as a student-athlete at Boston College.
"This is a period in your life where you build yourself as a person. You're never going to forget that. BC really shapes you, and I'm really thankful for that."