She may only be a freshman, but long-distance runner Zarah Quinn still knows just what it means to be committed.

‘[It’s] the clich’eacute; word that represents distance running,’ Quinn said. ‘You always hear about the star athletes that raced hard but didn’t train hard. They always end up falling by the wayside.’

That clearly hasn’t happened to many on the UR women’s track and field team, which finished first in a field of 13 schools in the St. Lawrence Invitational this past weekend.

Quinn was one of a myriad of ‘Jackets to qualify for postseason tournaments, placing fourth in the mile and qualifying for the New York State Tournament.

UR won five events, including the 1000-meter run, where sophomore Hillary Snyder beat out the competition in a time of 3:10.12.

‘Winning the meet as a team is very exciting,’ Snyder said. ‘We really want to take back the [New York State Collegiate Track Conference Championships] title this year and a meet like this lets us know we’re on the right track.’

Snyder’s time booked her a spot in the N.Y. State Championships, as well, while the women qualified for postseason tournaments in eight events all together.

Two women scored solid finishes for the second week in a row. Junior Yaneve Fonge qualified for an event in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships, placing third in the shot put, while junior Jacqueline Cinella finished second in both the 500 and the 200 – both times were good enough to qualify her for the ECAC Championship in March.

But Cinella was not the only one to excel in the mid-distance races.

On the men’s side, junior A.J. Lee returned after being sidelined with a calf injury to finish second in the 500, also qualifying him for ECACs.

‘The 500 meter is an ideal race for me, because it is both a speed and endurance race,’ Lee said. ‘I think people are intimidated by the race, because it doesn’t run like a conventional 400 meter race, and the race can be excruciatingly painful in the last 100 meters.’

Lee, like a number of the ‘Jackets, is no stranger to postseason success. Last season, he qualified and placed second in the 500 at ECACs.

But this past weekend, the men didn’t quite get off to the start they had hoped to. Six men qualified for postseason tournaments, but the men placed fifth overall in a field of 12.

‘I expected that we would have placed high in the team rankings,’ Lee said. ‘I even believed we had a good chance at winning the meet. It was tough placing fifth, but the competition was solid – some guys had personal best performances – and we came out with more ECAC and NYSCTC qualifiers.’

But for the ‘Jackets, this is only the beginning. And for Quinn, it all comes down to what her approach to running is in the first place.

‘You have to be committed,’ she said. ‘And willing to push the bar.’

Hilfinger is a member ofthe class of 2010.

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