Heading into the fall season, the women’s cross country team had one main objective.

“Our expectations were to do better than we did last year in each of the three championship meets,” Assistant Coach Ken Switnicki said.

With a ninth-place finish at NCAA Atlantic Regional Championships on Oct. 13, they did just that. Although the team fell two positions shy of their goal of finishing in seventh place, they certainly have nothing to be disappointed about. Despite the absence of their top early-season runner, junior Christina Michael, for the past several weeks, the team has continued to rally and managed to achieve all of their preseason goals.

“The way they ran, there was really nothing more they could have done,” Switnicki said.

The breakout season ended with a climax for freshman Kellie Hasselwander. For the fourth week in a row, Hasselwander was the top finisher on the team. Her time of 23:41.1 for the six-kilometer race placed her 31st overall. Her excellent performance earned her All-Region honors.

Sophomore Rebecca Hayes finished in 46th place and second on the team with a time of 24:06.0. With a time of 24:20.3, junior Kate Pohlman earned 55th place. Freshman Stephanie Holowacz was 64th with a time of 24:30.8. Junior Jessica VanBinsbergen was the fifth and final scorer for the team, finishing in 24:38.7, good for 76th place. Not factoring in the scoring were freshmen Sarah Hotaling and Louisa Slocum. All seven UR runners beat the 25-minute mark.

This was the team’s second visit to St. Lawrence University this season. The first time was back on Sept. 25, when the team finished sixth out of 17 teams. The improvement the team has made throughout the season was clearly evident in Saturday’s race.

“Six out of our seven girls ran faster this Saturday, with four of the girls over a minute better [than on Sept. 25],” Switnicki said. “They were really happy with the way they ran.”

The excellent end to the season should make for an exciting offseason. The top 11 runners on the team will all be returning in the fall.

In addition, there is always the possibility that at least one of the incoming freshmen will make an immediate impact, as was the case this year.

“We could be downright scary next year if things work out for us,” Switnicki said. “I’ll be looking forward to being here next year.”

Swidler can be reached at dswidler@campustimes.org.

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