The women’s cross country team continued to steamroll the competition on Saturday at the University of Delaware Invitational. Despite the rainy, muddy and windy course as a result of Hurricane Ivan, the UR team dominated the competition, just as they did the previous week. The team finished in first place among the Division III teams, which also included Richard Stockton College and Wilmington College. They were not officially scored against the Division I teams competing in the race, but they would have taken first place against them as well. “It’s pretty exciting,” Head Coach Barbara Hartwig said. “I was very proud of the way they handled the circumstances.”In an astounding feat, the team swept the first 11 places of the Division III competition, as they amassed 15 points, the best point total they could possibly attain. “They found out they’re a pretty good team,” Hartwig said. “A lot of doubts were answered.” For the third consecutive week, the team was led by junior Christina Michael. She won the divisional race with a time of 20:03 for the five-kilometer race, giving her victories in consecutive weeks. Had the scoring included all teams participating in the meet, she would have placed third overall. Michael’s victory in the Delaware Invitational earned her New York State Runner of the Week Honors. “I was very surprised and excited,” Michael said. “It’s always nice to be recognized for something that you have put so much effort toward.” Amazingly, the award comes after just her third race as a cross country runner, a feat that she has not overlooked. “It was a very difficult decision for me to make the switch [from soccer to cross country],” Michael said. “I didn’t really know what to expect coming into the season. With the amount of training and running I did over the summer, I knew that I would experience some sort of success with it. Since I had something to work towards and someone to train with who pushed me to my limits, I knew I would come into the season in great shape. So far, I’m enjoying the team, the running and the competition.” Michael continued, “Despite all of the early accomplishments, there is clearly still a long way to go and a lot more to be achieved. There is still much more room for improvement. Since this is all new to me, I’m learning after every race.” Finishing second to Michael was junior Jessica VanBinsbergen, who ran 20:35. Freshman Kellie Hasselwander completed the race in 20:51 to finish third. With a time of 21:17, junior Kate Pohlman was fourth. Rounding out the scoring was freshman Louisa Slocum, who was fifth with a time of 21:32. “I think the victory helped our confidence a lot,” Hartwig said. “We’ve definitely been on an upward trend. This was another step in the right direction.” This weekend, the team will travel to St. Lawrence University, where they will compete in their first 6,000-meter race of the season at the site of the NCAA Regional Championships on Nov. 13. “This weekend is certainly going to be a big test, kind of like a mini regional,” Hartwig said. Swidler can be reached at dswidler@campustimes.org.



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