The women’s cross country team started off their season with a bang last weekend, placing four runners in the top nine. The ‘Jackets finished the race in second place out of three teams with a score of 40 points, beating SUNY Fredonia and finishing just behind Rochester Institute of Technology.

“It was a great race, but the defeat by RIT will provide a little extra motivation for our training over the next several weeks,” junior Laura Richenderfer said. “Even though we were defeated by three points by RIT, we were missing a number of key runners, so the fact that the margin was so close is very encouraging.”

“All I have to say about this weekend is that I think it was an extremely impressive start to our season,” she said. “Even though we didn’t win, it was a very close race and we now know what we have to work on” junior Kellie Hasselwander said.

Hasselwander led the team, placing third in the race with a time of 20:10 on the 5-kilometer course at Genesee Valley Park. Richenderfer wasn’t far behind, placing seventh overall with a time of 20:29. Freshmen Hilary Haefner and Sadie Gollub were eighth and ninth, respectively, running 20:46 and 20:48.

“Kellie did a nice job of leading the team, she ran about 25 seconds faster than her first meet last year,” head coach Barbara Hartwig said. “The next three runners were very impressive pack. Laura is competing again after sitting out last year with mono and Hilary and Sadie are freshmen.”

The fifth runner and final scorer was also a freshman – Rachel Given placed 13th overall with a time of 21:09. Just behind her were seniors Nora Craighead and Whitney Silkworth.

“It was nice to see seniors Nora Craighead and Whitney Silkworth finish out our top seven. This is Whitney’s first season in cross country after excelling on the track and Nora has been battling leg injuries for several years,” Hartwig said.

Everyone on the team has high hopes for the season. With ambitious freshmen and healthy returners, prospects for the championship meet look promising.

UR’s performance this weekend foreshadows a strong showing throughout the fall. The split between the first and fifth runners was only 59 seconds and between first and seventh it was merely 1:06.

“That’s very good for the first meet and speaks well of our depth,” Hartwig said.

“This year’s team is running smart and being very conscious about preventing injuries,” Richenderfer said. “I think we’ll have a strong team making it through the entirety of the season and into championships.”

Hasselwander is extremely optimistic for the meets to come.

“We have several promising freshmen that have been eager to step it up and fill in the positions of the seniors that we lost,” she said. “I can’t wait to see how we perform in a more competitive meet.”

The ladies have this weekend off and will be traveling to Wilmington, Ohio on Friday, Sept. 22 for the pre-national meet.

Philbrick can be reached at

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