The sunny skies and fan support helped set the tone for what turned out to be one of the best meets of the season so far for men?s and women?s cross country.

As part of Meliora Weekend, the teams hosted the annual UR Invitational at Mendon Ponds Park this past Saturday.

In the final team standings, the women finished in fourth place and the men? s performance earned them a second-place finish.

The women?s 5K race started off the day. SUNY Geneseo junior Melissa White finished the race with a first-place finish and a time of 19 minutes and 5 seconds.

For the Yellowjackets sophomore Erika Wasserstein was the top place-winner. Her time of 19:59 was good enough for a sixth-place finish as well as the distinction of being the best time ever run by a UR female on the Mendon Ponds course. The record was since the Yellowjackets started running it in 1995.

?Erika?s race was the most impressive performance this past weekend,? head coach Barbara Hartwig said. ?When someone can run under 20 minutes on this course they have accomplished a feat that not many runners can do.?

Other performances that Hartwig recognized were junior Lisa Johns who placed 17th and seniors Kadie Simon and Amanda Danforth, who placed 21st and 26th respectively.

?[Lisa, Kadie and Amanda] all had drastic time improvements on this course from last year,? Hartwig said.

Sophomore Mary Lebrun finished out the top five for the Yellowjackets by placing 33rd.

Although the team performance wasn?t exactly what Hartwig was looking for she knows that it will improve.

?I know as a team we could do better, we can do better and we will do better,? she said.

In the men?s 8K race, once again a SUNY Geneseo athlete grabbed the top spot. Senior Anthony Gallo won in what proved to be a tight race, with a time of 27:05. Between Gallo and the ninth-place finisher there was only a one-minute difference.

That ninth-place finish went to UR?s top runner of the day, junior Dave Messenheimer.

?Dave is definitely starting to get back in running form, which is not easy to do after competing in triathlons,? coach John Izzo said.

With two of UR?s top two runners not competing due to illness and injury, Izzo was looking for some people to step up and that is what he got from his whole team.

The biggest improvement of the day came from senior P.J. Maglione, who Izzo described as having ?the race of his career.? P.J. finished 14th with a time of 28:25. Two seniors, Scott Rhodes and Andy MacMillan, also earned points for UR by placing 19th and 20th respectively.

Sophomore Alex Voetsch finished out the point-scorers for UR with his 21st-place finish.

?Our team did exceptionally well at this meet, probably our best meet of the year,? said Izzo.

Both teams will now enjoy a bye week to prepare for their championship season. They start off by traveling to the University Athletic Association Championships at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia Oct. 27.

Johnston can be reached at

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