After a weak performance at the New York State Collegiate Track Conference Championships last year, the women’s cross country team has made quite a rebound.

The Yellowjackets placed four runners in the top 36 finishers and came in fifth out of 17 teams on Saturday at the championships at Hamilton College.

UR totaled 168 points and came in just two points behind fourth place finishers and fierce competitors SUNY Brockport. SUNY Geneseo, ranked number two in the country, stole the win with only 21 points.

For the Yellowjackets, the first to cross the finish line was senior Jessica Van Binsbergen. She finished 18th overall with a time of 18:48.7 on the five-kilometer course. With this finish, Van Binsbergen was named one of the best, making the All Conference team.

“This conference is quite competitive, so to finish in the top 21 is an honor,” head coach Barbara Hartwig said. “Jessie has been a steady performer all season. I can always count on her.”

However, Van Binsbergen couldn’t do it alone. Cross country is a team sport, and she had her team by her side. Sophomore Kellie Hasselwander finished 26th with a time of 19:11.3.

“Kellie was a bit disappointed with her finish and time, but she ran much faster than last year, and has had a strong season thus far,” Hartwig said.

Sophomore Stephanie Holowacz finished 35th with a time of 19:28.5 and sophomore Kate Pohlman was 36th with a time of 19:32.4.

“Stephanie has been getting stronger and stronger since her initial injury setback,” Hartwig said. “I am pleased that she is peaking at the right time. Kate has also been very steady for us. They both had [personal records] and we were very excited about their performances.”

The fifth UR scorer was junior Rebecca Hayes, coming in 53rd with a time of 20:02.7.

“We had several people who ran personal bests for 5K cross country and that is always exciting,” Hartwig said.

Something that has not been a problem in the past is now a growing problem for the Yellowjackets.

However, Hartwig has found that she can really count on her alternates to back up the team if they get in trouble.

“[Junior] Nora [Craighead] and [sophomore] Ashanti [O’Sheen] ran their best races of the year. They are our alternates for the Regionals this weekend,” she said. “It’s nice to know that either of them could step in and really do a fine job filling out our top seven.”

The Yellowjackets now look to this Saturday’s competition. They will be running in the NCAA Atlantic Regional championships here at Genesee Valley State Park. The race starts at 11 a.m. and UR students are welcome to attend, though they must reserve tickets.

“All in all, it was a nice performance and should set us up for an even better race this weekend,” Hartwig said.

Philbrick can be reached at

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