On Sept. 3, first-year Ariel Foster finished 20th in the Colby-Sawyer Charger Invitational. This was not her first opportunity for high-level competition.
During high school, Foster was a member of the Boston Lions community track and field team. She competed as a sprinter in the 2019 USA Track and Field (USATF) Youth Outdoor Championships in New York City, New York, and the 2021 competition in Atlanta, Georgia. The nationwide competition hosts over 100 clubs annually.
“The [USATF Youth Outdoor Championships] is really not as competitive as people think. It's more of your mentality; like if you don't know how to motivate yourself, then you're not going to survive,” Foster said. “It's kind of like a Hunger Games but just not hungry as much.”
A benefit of her involvement was a college scholarship through USATF. “The reason why I was so hungry is because I got a free scholarship,” Foster said.
Foster attracted multiple offers from cross-country and track and field programs, including Division I Northeastern University. A fall open house where she met cross country and track and field coach Ben Biello swayed her to become a Laser.
“She was so driven and determined; that's the kind of character and person she is,” Biello said. “She was someone who I wanted on our team, and luckily, we were able to get her.”
Foster’s commitment paid dividends before she began her first race, especially with Biello, who relies on his players to sell the program’s strength.
“I can tell our recruits, we have an athlete who is running these really great times, who's had experience in the [USATF Youth Outdoor Championships],” Biello said.
Although cross-country is Foster’s secondary sport, she can perform in distance-based athletics as well. In addition to her 27:37.17 finish at the Colby-Sawyer Charger Invitational, Foster was the Laser’s top runner during the Keene State Invitational, finishing at a time of 24:46.11.
Biello noted the energy that Foster brings to the cross-country program in practice. “She's shown to them how determined and hardworking she is, and even though this isn't her main priority, she's still giving it her all,” Biello said.
Her teammates have also felt the impact. “She’s constantly working hard and knows how to bring the team morale up,” senior captain Zach Kirsch said.
Foster hopes to decrease her times to within a second of professional sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson. A former Division I champion, Richardson won the gold in the 4x100 meter relay representing the United States at the 2017 Pan American U20 Championship. Biello sees Foster competing on the regional and divisional level, but also has aspirations for her as a leader.
“I know she’s going to have no problem getting there individually, but I want her to really round out a team around her,” Biello said. “To lead a team, whether it’s a 4x100 team, 4x400, or a whole women’s squad out to a regional meet and be able to compete at that level.”
Foster and the Cross Country team will be at the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championships on Oct. 29. She will continue with the Indoor Track and Field team in the winter season.