Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams got their fall seasons off to impressive running starts, finishing well in team rankings and boasting several individual personal records on Saturday, Sept. 15 at the Yellowjacket Invitational held in Genesee Valley Park.
Despite the fact that Cornell University, a Division I school, dominated the top spots in both races, UR’s men’s team scored 115 points, taking third overall in team competition, second among D-III schools, behind SUNY Geneseo with 105 points out of 24 teams that competed.
Finishing first for UR was senior captain Dan Hamilton, who covered the 8-kilometer course in 25:55.3 to take sixth place among D-III runners and 19th place overall, scoring 14th.
“It was the best race I’ve ever had,” Hamilton said, noting that his time beat his previous best by 20 seconds. “I’m very happy with [my run].”
Coming in second for the men was sophomore Mark Rollfs, who finished in 22nd place (17th scoring) in a time of 25:58.5. Junior Yuji Wakimoto, who last week was named Runner of the Week by the New York State Collegiate Track Conference (NYSCTC) for his performance at the Oswego State Cross Country Invitational, took third for the Yellowjackets in 26:02:0 to place 25th overall.
Rounding out the scoring for UR was junior Adam Pacheck in fourth with a time of 26:15:9 and sophomore Stephen Tewksbury who took 43rd overall with a time of 26:22:8.
“I thought it was a good first test of the year,” men’s coach John Izzo said, explaining that last week Oswego’s course was very flat while UR’s poses more challenges because of the hills.
Izzo said that he was “very pleased” at how the team ran, especially considering that it is a very young team, easily the youngest UR has fielded in a long time.
He added that cross country is “really end of season-focused,” as the last four meets determining nationals.
The women’s squad ran to similar success, earning a fourth place finish among23 teams and a third place finish among D-III schools with 167 points.
Senior Lauren Norton, who has raced at nationals twice in her UR cross country career, finished first for the Yellowjackets with an impressive 16th place overall finish, covering the 6K course in 22:06.5.
Norton said she was pleased with her finish, which she said was only about seven seconds off her personal record.
“I hope to keep improving, keep doing well,” she said of her season goals. “I’m definitely looking to nationals … I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for no injuries.”
Norton also said she was “ecstatic” with her team’s overall finish — the best team finish she’s been part of while racing for UR, she noted.
In only her second college race, freshman Catherine Knox ran to second for the Yellowjackets with a time of 23:13:5, placing 45th overall (29th scoring), while senior Zarah Quinn followed in a close third with a time of 23:15:6 for 47th overall (31st scoring).
The remaining two scorers for UR were senior Meghan Ogle at 23:31:6 and junior Danielle Bessette at 23:39:2.
Women’s cross country coach Barbara Hartwig said she thought the meet went “great,” especially considering that for some of the team’s runners it was the first 6K race of the season.
“I thought they handled it really well,” Hartwig said. “The top five stayed together and we had several [personal records]. I couldn’t be prouder.”
Buletti is a member of the class of 2013.