The Yellowjacket cross country teams traveled to New York City on Saturday to face many of their Atlantic Regional competitors in the New York University Invitational.

This was determined the pre-regional meet, as the Atlantic Regional Championships will be held on the same course at Van Cortlandt Park at the end of the season.

The men’s team came away with a promising finish, placing fifth of 25 teams. With a score of 142, UR was just four points behind Dickinson College, who isn’t even an Atlantic Regional school. In last year’s championship meet, the ‘Jackets placed sixth overall, and last year’s champions, NYU, placed sixth this year, behind UR.

This fifth-place finish is markedly important due to the fact that a team must finish in the top five in order to qualify for the national championship meet.

The front man for the Yellowjackets was senior Mark Stevens, who placed 10th overall in a field of 254 runners. He finished the eight-kilometer race in 25:57.

A pack of blue and yellow uniforms followed him closely, as the remaining scorers all crossed the finish in the next 40 seconds.

The second runner for the ‘Jackets was fifth-year senior Nick Roosa, who ran an impressive 26:11 for 21st place. Next for UR was senior Patrick Hughes, who finished 31st with a time of 26:25. Clocking in at 26:34 was junior Dan Chebot placing 38th overall. The final scorer for the team was senior Dan Mueller, who crossed the finish at 26:37 to put him in 42nd place. The first displacer for the ‘Jackets was freshman Brian Lang, who came in just after Mueller at 26:38 and finished 43rd overall. The second displacer was junior Ezra Milby, who ran a 27:27 on the course to place 90th.

UR improved their placement in the Atlantic Region, placing fourth among teams in the region. However, some of the teams chose not to participate in the NYU Invitational, so projections remain unclear.

The women’s team had similar improved results. They placed ninth of 24 teams overall and placed seventh of Atlantic Regional teams. In last year’s regional meet, they finished 13th. However, as in the men’s race, a few of the Atlantic Regional teams chose not to attend.

“We are making really good progress. Most of the women ran faster races than last week,” head coach Barbara Hartwig said. “The majority of women running in New York City ran faster through one, two and three miles than they ran last week, and this was in the middle of a six-kilometer race.”

Coming off a sweep at the Rochester Institute of Technology Invitational, the Yellowjackets had confidence to perform well.

“I think winning at the RIT Invitational gave us a stepping stone for the meet this past weekend,” junior Lauren Jewett said. “We showed ourselves and other teams what we are capable of and it gave us the confidence and motivation to continue doing well. Plus, we knew that after winning on such a hot day at RIT, that we could definitely do well at NYU.”

The course at Van Cortlandt Park is classically a five-kilometer course, but it was changed to six kilometers to make it fit for the national qualifying race.

“We ran almost a mile in an open field before the course did any narrowing,” Hartwig said. “That gave the field time to spread out before getting into the woods. The six-kilometer course has a few challenging hills, but it is much faster than the original course.”

First for the team was senior Kellie Hasselwander, who placed 16th in a field of 257, finishing the course in 23:11. Last week’s second place finisher for the ‘Jackets, senior Laura Richenderfer, is recovering from an injury and was unable to run at NYU. Also missing from the top seven was sophomore Lisa Cole for personal reasons.

“Both of these women would have helped our cause, but good teams find other runners to step up and fill in the gaps and that is what our team did,” Hartwig said. “We are lucky to have the depth when something like this happens.”

The second scorer for the Yellowjackets was sophomore Sadie Gollub. She finished the course in 24:44 to come in 58th place. Third for UR was sophomore Allie McComb, who placed 66th overall, crossing the finish at 25:12. Next for the team was sophomore Suzanne Giunta, who clocked in at 25:33 for 74th place. The final scoring member of the team was Jewett, who placed 81st overall with a time of 25:42. Right behind her was the first displacer, sophomore Rachel Given, who came in 82nd in 25:42. Sophomore Hilary Haefner was the seventh runner for the ‘Jackets, placing 88th with a time of 25:56.

Due to the two missing runners and the incredible depth of the team, the order of the top seven was almost completely different and jumbled from the top seven at the RIT Invitational.

“There is definitely some jockeying for positions on the team,” Hartwig said. “This is a good thing as long as everyone remains positive and works hard.”

The Yellowjackets now gear up for the Geneseo Invitational this Saturday at Letchworth State Park and look to the quickly approaching championship meets, particularly the Atlantic Regional one.

“Previewing the course gives us a better sense of what is in store and what we need to work on – things like hills, running up and down them effectively,” Jewett said. “It takes off the nerves for when we actually race regionals. When the team goes, we will know what to expect.”

Hartwig is looking forward to the upcoming meets but looks to improve a few things before the most important meets arrive.

“We will be stressing our ability to run hills in the next couple of weeks. We did pretty well on the uphills, but could improve our downhill running,” Hartwig said. “We will also be working on speed endurance. We have built some nice distance running bases, but need to be better able to handle the faster paces reached in races.”

Philbrick is a member of the class of 2009.

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