In cross country, success is not always measured by the place at which the team finishes, but rather the personal records of time achieved on the course. While doing well at the individual meets is satisfying, the teams strive toward the prize at the end the championship invitationals at the close of the season.

So far this season, the women’s cross country team has been successful in this venture. Its times have steadily decreased race by race, and the gap between the first and last runners has dropped, as well. Along with that, the Yellowjackets have learned to not only make up for runners lost to graduation, but also fill vacancies left midseason due to injuries or other absences of the top runners. This weekend, at the Hamilton Invitational at Hamilton College, the ‘Jackets lacked two of their top-seven runners. This seemed to have little effect on the outcome, however, as they took fourth of 11 teams and contained their gap time to just 32 seconds between the first and fifth runners.

Other than domination from Queen’s University a team from Canada, where there are few limitations on age and experience of college athletes the playing field was pretty even. Queen’s University scored just 25 points for the first place finish, while Ithaca placed second overall with 49 points. UR’s 105 points put the team just behind SUNY Plattsburgh, who took third with 99 points.

Leading the charge for the Yellowjackets was junior Sadie Gollub, who placed 14th overall in a field of 128 runners. Her time of 18:58.3 for the 5-kilometer course put her at a pace of just over six minutes per mile. Thus far in the season, the junior class has made quite an impact on UR’s outcomes at invitationals. These runners use each other to improve and continually change their order of finish. This week was no different, and, in fact, all five scorers at Hamilton were members of the junior class.

Following Gollub was Lisa Cole, who placed 19th with a time of 19:14.3. Then came Allie McComb, who crossed the finish at 19:21.5 for 22nd place. To finish off the scoring were Heather Graham and Suzanne Giunta, who came in at 28th and 29th, respectively, with times of 19:29.8 and 19:30.9.

The women’s cross country team also showed its strength over fall break, when it took part in the SUNY Geneseo Invitational at Letchworth State Park. There, the ‘Jackets placed third of 17 teams with 86 points. Host Geneseo, who was most recently ranked fifth in the nation on, easily grabbed the win with 25 points.

SUNY Plattsburgh was again a thorn in UR’s side, eking out second place with 81 points.
Gollub was UR’s leader in this meet, as well, placing 10th in a field of 261 runners, but she also received support from two freshmen who didn’t run at Hamilton. Freshman Laura Norton was the Yellowjackets’ second runner, followed by Cole and then freshman Hillary Snyder.

Graham was the ‘Jackets’ final scorer, placing 30th to keep the top five runners in the top 30 overall. They also managed to keep the gap time under a minute, with just 56.9 seconds between Gollub and Graham.

The men’s team, also lacking some of its top runners at the Hamilton Invitational, continued success despite these vacancies. At Hamilton, the top runners did not participate so that they could effectively train through the week and put in multiple difficult workouts.

The theory behind these workouts is that they will lead to improved performance in future, more important races.

Sophomore Craig Baumgartner was UR’s first finisher, coming in 21st overall in the 117-person field. He was followed by sophomore Andy Cirillo, junior Alex Lee, senior Tyler Kieft and senior Ezra Milby. Despite the fact that many key members of the team didn’t run, the Yellowjackets still managed to place fifth out of 10 teams.

At the Geneseo Invitational, it was a different story. Though SUNY Geneseo, who is currently ranked 16th in the nation according to, easily took the win with 36 points, UR was able to take fourth overall out of 21 teams with 108 points, just behind SUNY Plattsburgh with 91 points and the team of Geneseo Alumni with 96 points.
Junior Tyle Stelzig finished first for the ‘Jackets, placing 19th in the field of 248 runners with a time of 26:26.4 in the 8-kilometer run. Just behind him was senior and co-captain Dan Chebot, who placed 21st, crossing the finish in 26:26.9.

Sophomore Brian Lang placed 23rd with a time of 26:35.9, and freshman Jamie Vavra was just behind him at 24th, finishing in 26:36.4.

UR’s top six finishers finished within 10 spots of each other, as the last scorer was freshman Jason Zayac, who finished 26th overall, and sophomore Jon Pinto finished 27th.
They came in with times of 26:37.8 and 26:41.2, respectively.

This weekend, both teams will compete in the Yellowjacket Invitational their only home meet of the season.

Though the teams participating in the invitational are not necessarily the top-ranked teams in the area, this invitational is sentimentally important to the ‘Jackets.

The invitational will take place at Genesee Valley Park at 11 a.m. for the men’s team and noon for the women’s team.

Philbrick is a member of the class of 2009.

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