The Rochester cross country teams headed to Ohio last weekend to test out the NCAA national championship course. It was a tough race with many elements to rough, but the ‘Jackets pulled through and gained quite a bit of experience.

The women crossed the finish line 13th out of 15 teams. On the bright side, the gap between the first and fifth runners was merely 61 seconds, showing the depth and tightness of the team.

The race was not an easy one, filled with many difficult variables for UR to overcome.

“The course was very flat, but it was very wet and soggy. It was quite windy,” head coach Barbara Hartwig said.

She also commented on the caliber of the other competitors at the meet.

“The competition was very, very strong. We had several nationally ranked teams, so it was quite a test for us.”

Junior Kellie Hasselwander was the first of the Rochester finishers, crossing the line 59th and at 24:01 for the six-kilometer race.

Thirty-one seconds later, freshman Sarah Gollub came in at 24:32 and 69th place. Following her were senior Whitney Silkworth (24:46) and freshman Rachel Given (24:54) at 75th and 77th, respectively. The final scorer for the team was senior Nora Craighead at 25:02 in 80th.

Hartwig considered the longer race distance as one of their problems.

“It was the first 6K race for the new runners and I thought they held back a bit, a little unsure about having enough to finish with the extra distance,” Hartwig said. “But they finished well, so I hope that gives them more confidence for the next 6K.”

The team had a lot of trouble getting away from the main pack.

“Our main problem as a group was getting too slowly. When the course narrowed we were caught in a large pack and it was crowded,” Hartwig said. “There was a lot of jostling and we didn’t have the freedom to determine our own pace at that point, we really got spread out and in a large field, it killed us”

However, Hartwig isn’t too worried about future meets.

“I think the team will be motivated to show that they can do better,” she said. “We are certainly in better shape. We need to come together as a team and fight to do better and I think we will.”

The men’s team also had difficulties last weekend, when they, too, traveled to Ohio.

They finished the meet 14th of 16 teams.

Despite this, not all the runners had a bad meet. Junior Mark Stevens continued his trend of impressive performances, placing third out of 210 runners, finishing the eight-kilometer race in just 25:38.

Junior Pat Hughes was next for the Yellowjackets, placing 59th and clocking in at 27:04.

Third for Rochester was sophomore Tom Brekke, who came in at 27:39 and in 85th place.

Finishing up for the team were junior Dan Mueller, clocked at 27:50 and senior Joe Lust, who ran the course in 27:56. These times garnered the runners 91st and 95th, respectively.

UR totaled 332 points for the meet, just six points behind Ohio Wesleyan University and only 16 behind Connecticut College.

The Yellowjackets return to competition looking to gain back some strength and confidence on Saturday at the Geneseo Invitational in Letchworth State Park.

Philbrick can be reached at

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