Any home-course advantage the women’s cross country team may have had last Saturday at the UR Invitational was wiped out by a torrential downpour that pretty much leveled the playing field for all the runners to just one thing ? wet. What head coach Barbara Hartwig referred to as “blinding rain in the face” turned what was anticipated to be one of the fastest courses the team would race during the season into a merely average one. Calling the day as a whole “an interesting experience for everyone,” Hartwig said that “times were slowed by the weather.” There was no grumbling, and there were no complaints at all, which has paid off and will continue to do so in the future as well.”

After a week off to begin early preparations for important upcoming races, the women faced what Hartwig called “very good competition, including the third and eighth nationally ranked teams” finishing fourth out of seven competing teams. Placing first overall in the six kilometer race was Geneseo, followed by Baldwin-Wallace College, Hope College, UR in fourth, SUNY Brockport, Mansfield University and Alfred University. The top finishers for UR were junior Elizabeth Canfield, who finished ninth with a time of 23:39 and senior Lisa Johns, who crossed the line in 24:19. Sophomore Julie Norman managed to set a personal record with a time of 27:32, an impressive feat in what may have been the most difficult race of the season.

At this point in the season, the team’s main goal is to improve as much as possible and prepare for the three most important meets of the season ? the UAA Championships, New York State Championships, and the NCAA Regional Championships. Although Hartwig was pleased by the fact that the team is “making progress each and every week,” she said it was difficult to gauge improvement last weekend because of the weather, but that the entire team “competed very hard. I was pleased with their efforts.” She was, however, certain that the team has shown immense improvement in practices during the past several weeks, claiming “they have impressed me with their work ethic all season.”

With the UAA Championships rapidly approaching, the size of the team has been cut to just 10 runners, a group which coach Hartwig referred to as “a nice mix of veterans and new people.” With the seniors heading into their final weeks of competition, she said “they will want to make the most of the next two meets.”

The first of the championship races, the UAA Championships, will be hosted by NYU a week from Saturday at Van Cortland Park, a course which Hartwig called “an old, historic and interesting course.” Referring to her team that will compete in that race, she said “we have a real nice group going into the championship season. It’s a fun time of year.”

Swidler can be reached at

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