The cloudy skies and light rain falling set the mood as the cross country teams ran the NCAA Division III Atlantic Regional Championships on Saturday. Running close to home, the Yellowjackets traveled to Letchworth State Park, where the men placed sixth out of 34 complete teams and the women placed 13th out of 30 complete teams.

The men had a particularly rough race, as junior Mark Stevens was plagued with an injury and was unable to perform at his usual caliber. However, Stevens was still the first individual finisher for the team, placing 18th overall in a field of 230 finishers. He crossed the line at 26:16.7 for the eight-kilometer course.

Next for the ‘Jackets was junior Pat Hughes, who placed 28th overall with a time of 26:37.2. Just a little over two seconds later, fellow junior Dan Mueller came in at 26:39.9 in 30th place. Mueller came in strong, as he managed to improve his time from his last run on the course by nearly 20 seconds. He also was named a member of the All-Region Team.

Senior captain Joe Lust also broke 27 minutes, finishing in 46th place at 26:56.8.

Head coach John Izzo was very pleased with Lust’s finish and his participation as a team leader.

“Lust saved his best race for last and was an inspiration for all those who are looking for the definition of the sports term ‘heart,'” Izzo said.

Rounding out the scorers was junior captain Nick Roosa, who placed 86th with a time of 27:51.8. UR’s displacers were sophomore Dan Chebot in 104th, crossing the line at 28:13.2 and senior Brian MacIlvain, who finished 114th with a time of 28:23.3.

Not only were the ‘Jackets missing the complete health of Stevens, but they were also missing sophomore Tom Brekke, who didn’t run due to illness.

The team finished with 208 points. New York University, ranked third in the country, according to the latest NCAA poll. In fact, all five teams that placed ahead of UR are currently ranked in the top 25 of the latest poll.

“The sixth place finish at regionals was not indicative of the great strides made this season,” Lust said. “The entire region grew more competitive making it much harder to even maintain the team’s position and making us very happy to beat out 28 other colleges to finish the highest non-qualifying team.”

“Our region was one of the strongest in the nation this year and we held our own,” Izzo said. “I am disappointed for the guys and not in them.”

Rochester will still have some representation at the NCAA Championships,though. Stevens’s finish was good enough to earn him a spot as an individual qualifier for the event, however, due to his injury, he was forced to withdraw. Coincidentally, Hughes was the first alternate, and he will now be representing the Atlantic Region as an individual at the championshps, which are being held this Saturday at Voice of America Park in West Chester, Ohio.

The women’s cross country team competed against three nationally ranked teams, including SUNY Geneseo, who placed first in the meet and is currently ranked first in the country.

First to cross the line for the Yellowjackets was junior Kellie Hasselwander, who placed 55th in a field of 208 finishers. She finished the six-kilometer course in 24:28.1.Next for the team was senior Nora Craighead, who finished in 67th with a time of 24:39.2. This was an impressive 30-second improvement over her last run on the course.

Fellow senior Whitney Silkworth was next for the ‘Jackets in 84th with a time of 25:15.5. Less than a second behind was her teammate, junior Laura Richenderfer, in 85th with a time of 25:16.3.

The final scorer for UR was freshman Sadie Gollub, who placed 91st with a time of 25:25.4.

The displacers for the team were senior Stacy Allen and freshman Rachel Given, who placed 95th and 108th with times of 25:31.2 and 25:55.7, respectively.

The Yellowjackets totaled 382 points, placing them ahead of Nazareth College and just behind Vassar College.

Philbrick is a member of the class of 2009.

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