The fall season is often a time for student athletes, particularly freshmen, to make adjustments, acclimate themselves and ensure a smooth transition into the college lifestyle. However, several UR freshmen cross country runners have proved they are ready for the rigors of college athletics already, with an impressive performance at the Roberts Wesleyan Harry Anderson Invitational this past weekend, Sept. 29 and 30.
The men finished the competition second, while the women placed sixth out of 10 teams, most of which were Division II programs.
Both teams chose to use the competition as a chance to let their younger runners gain experience and race against some of the stronger college programs in the Northeast.
“Coach Izzo sent some of our younger runners out there to get some good competition before the championship part of the season,” freshman Chris D’Antona, who finished the 8k race in third place with a time of 26:11, said. “Even though it wasn’t our top guys, we still wanted to represent UR to the best of our abilities and I’d say we accomplished that.”
Also running for UR was sophomore Austin Davis, who finished in ninth place with a time of 26:24. Freshman Jeremy Hassett and junior Andrew Keene finished only a second apart from each other, with times of 26:33 and 26:34, respectively.
The 77 runner field also featured the Yellowjackets’ freshmen Aaron Sadholz and Mintesinot Kassu, sophomores Ethan Pacheck and Brad Kowalczyk and juniors Mike Ricci, Jon Cyganik, Jamie Hospers and Nicholas Rohaidy, who all finished in the top 40, combining for an average time of 26:30, only five seconds off the pace set by first place Gannon.
D’Antona, who led the way for the ’Jackets, saw the day as a success for the team, both in terms of its results, but also in the way they competed.
“Overall, I was happy with the way our guys came together, stuck to a race plan and put everything out there to be successful,” he said.
Although no freshman ran for the women’s team in the 5k competition, five sophomores represented UR, finishing between 23rd to 78th in the 88 racer field.
Sophomore Kathryn Woodworth was the first Jacket to cross the finish line, cruising to a time of 20:10, her fastest ever.
“The course at Roberts Wesleyan is a team favorite; the atmosphere is great and the course is actually fun, if you can say that about a cross country course,” she said, adding that earning a personal best in her first race back from injury was “icing on the cake.”
Also running were sophomores Alyssa Arre, Elizabeth Cooley, Rebecca Bergman and Michelle McLaughlin, each whom was coming back from either injuries or time off. Considering this fact, as Woodworth put it, “it was awesome to see everyone perform so well.”
Both the men and women will next be in action Oct. 6, when they travel to Pittsburgh to run in the Carnegie Mellon University Invitational. However, despite the importance of every event, there is no doubt an extra bit of excitement about the UAA Championships and NCAA Atlantic Regional later this fall, as both events will take place at home in Rochester at Genesee Valley Park, a golden opportunity for UR’s runners to use their home course advantage.
Shapiro is a member of the class of 2016.