It was a difficult weekend for both the men’s and women’s cross country teams. Against what Coach Barbara Hartwig called “the toughest Division III competition we’ll face until Regionals,” the women’s cross country team suffered what she said was “our first real setback of the year,” as they finished eighth out of eight teams competing at the UAA Championships hosted by NYU at Van Cortland Park last weekend.
Heading into the UAAs, the men’s team was familiar with the course after they competed in last season’s Regional Championships at Van Cortlandt Park, had high expectations and had prepared well in the weeks leading up to the race. The results, however, weren’t up to par. After finishing last out of the eight competing teams at the UAAs, mens’ coach John Izzo said “I expected that we would do better than that, but we didn’t. In sports, you never know what’s going to happen. That’s why the games are played.”
The last place finish wasn’t for a lack of effort though, as coach Izzo stated “I think they wanted it too much. Sometimes you can over-care, and they really wanted to do well.” He added, “It’s the coach’s job to make sure that doesn’t happen, and obviously I didn’t do that.”
Senior David Messenheimer, the top UR finisher, came in 26th place overall with a time of 27:00. Finishing in 27:41, freshman Chris Nolan crossed the line 40th overall. Just six seconds later, junior Alex Voetch completed the race, coming in 43rd with a time of 27:47.
There is little time to look back at the outcome of last weekend’s events, as the team looks to bounce back this weekend when they head to Oswego, where they will compete in the New York State Championships. Coach Izzo said of the state meet, “I expect that we’ll rebound. We’re not going to lie down, I know that.”
The womens’ team faced similar difficulties in their last place finish. Of the eight teams in the race, five were nationally ranked, making the competition extremely difficult. Finishing first in the race was Washington University in St. Louis, followed by Brandeis University, Emory University, University of Chicago, Carnegie Mellon University, New York University, Case Western Reserve University and UR.
Regarding the tough race, coach Hartwig said, “It’s not that we didn’t race well. It’s hard when you finish at the bottom because we never set our sights there. We raced very hard, and we haven’t had a flat or a down meet yet. Give the other teams credit, they raced very well.”
One problem that had plagued the team throughout the season was the large gap between the first three runners and the fourth, fifth and sixth runners. Last weekend however, that gap decreased significantly compared with previous races, a positive sign heading into the final two races of the season. “I was very happy about that, and I hope it continues. We’ve had a significant change for the better in that area,” coach Hartwig said.
The top finisher for UR once again was junior Elizabeth Canfield, who finished the six kilometer race 20th overall in 24:41. She has led the UR team for five consecutive races. Finishing second for UR and 31st overall, junior Mary Lebrun crossed the finish line in 25:15. Senior Lisa Johns placed 37th in the scoring, with a time of 25:32.
Heading into the State Championships and the Regional Championships the following weekend, the women’s team must do as she said, and ultimately “put last week’s race behind [them].” Unlike the last few races which have been six kilometers, the NYS meet is a 5K race, a distance which the women are more accustomed to running from the early races this season, as well as many races in previous years ? nearly all high school competitions are of the 5K variety. Coach Hartwig said regarding the upcoming race, her team is “excited for the five kilometer race and the flat course. We’ll be rested and ready to go.”