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The UR cross country team had a trying pair of races this past weekend, leaving them with a sense of accomplishment as well as ideas for where improvements need to be made.

On Friday, Sept. 30, the top nine members of both the men’s and women’s squads competed in the Brooks Paul Short Run — one of the largest and most prestigious cross country races in the nation — where they faced top Division 3, Division 2 and Division 1 competition.

The men’s team tied SUNY Cortland (323 points) for sixth place in the race, and was just edged out by Rider University (322). The top finishers were Elizabethtown College (298), Nebraska Wesleyan (294), Binghamton (204) and team champion Iona (125).  Elizabethtown and Nebraska Wesleyan are both ranked in the top 35 teams of Division 3, while Rider, Iona and Binghamton are all Division 1. Senior Jamie Vavra  led the ‘Jackets, finishing the 8K course in 26:07 for 16th place overall, while Take Five Scholar Frank Ramirez (49th, 26:33), sophomore Adam Pacheck (50th, 26:33), sophomore Yuji Wakimoto (70th, 26:48) and junior Dan Hamilton (138th, 27:19) rounded out the scoring.  The displacers were senior Jason Zayac (146th, 27:24) and sophomore John Bernstein (155th, 27:29).

Despite their success, the men’s team recognizes that their finish could have been a few places better if their fifth runner had finished closer to their first four.

“We need a fifth man if we want to stay in these big races,” Coach John Izzo said. “That said, I’m very excited because I know we have plenty of guys who can run with our top four.”

Likewise, the women’s team took part in a tough Paul Short Race and returned knowing that they performed well, but theat there is certainly room for improvement. They finished 33rd out of 44 teams with a total of 837 points.  Leading the Yellowjackets in the 6K race was sophomore Danielle Bessette (92nd, 23:51), followed by senior Hillary Snyder (160th, 24:26), freshman Victoria Stepanova (190th, 24:40), senior Meg Battin (196th, 24:42) and junior Meg Ogle (199th, 24:43).  The displacers were junior Zarah Quinn (219th, 25:04) and freshman Michelle McLaughlin (237th, 25:21).

“It just wasn’t a great day,” Snyder said, “We’re better than we ran today, but we’ll be back for next time.”

On Saturday, Oct. 1, the runners who did not run at Paul Short competed at the SUNY Geneseo Invitational, giving them a chance to step up into the team’s top spots.  Both teams placed well, which serves as a testament to the depth of both the men’s and women’s squads.

The men took fourth out of 13 teams with a score of 103 points — just 10 points out of third.  Freshman Mark Rollfs (16th, 27:17) led the ’Jackets, while freshman Stephan Tewksbury (20th, 27:32), junior  Joe Mozingo (21st, 27:33), senior Greg Hartnett (22nd, 27:34) and sophomore Dave DeLong (24th, 27:43) completed the scoring.  Senior Chris Taddeo (25th, 27:44) and sophomore Jamie Hospers (27th, 27:59) were the displacers.

The women’s team finished eighth out of 11 teams.  First in for the ‘Jackets was freshman Caitlyn Garbarino (26th, 25:17), followed by junior Bridget Kruszka (33rd, 25:48),  sophomore Kate Thomas (37th, 26:02), senior Laryssa Hebert (38th, 26:04) and freshman Alyssa Arre (54th, 27:23), with sophomore Zoe Edmunds (58th, 28:35) finishing as the sole displacer.

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