After dominating performances by both the women’s and men’s cross country teams at the 2012 New York State Collegiate Track Conference (NYSCTC) Championship two weeks ago on Saturday, Oct. 20 — during which the men’s team earned a state title and the women took fourth place — the teams encountered stiffer competition this past weekend in conference competition on home turf in Genesee Valley Park.
Both the women’s and men’s teams finished sixth out of eight teams, over an 8k course for the men and a 6k course for the women, in the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships on Saturday, Oct. 27.
In the men’s competition, Washington University in St. Louis took the team title with 52 points. The Yellowjackets finished at 153 team points, with junior Adam Pacheck finishing first for the squad with a time of 25:50:7, placing 19th overall.
Senior Dan Hamilton finished close behind in 25:55:9, 25th overall, while junior John Bernstein, who placed an impressive fourth in the NYSCTC Championships, took 30th overall in 26:01:9. Rounding out the team scoring for UR was junior Yuji Wakimoto in 26:23:3 for 41st overall and sophomore Mark Rollfs in 26:24:5 for 43rd overall.
Men’s coach John Izzo expressed disappointment with the team’s finish, saying that the team “stumbled,” but has “not fallen out of national relevance.”
“We have two weeks before regionals to put ourselves on the right path and that is exactly what we all plan on doing,” he said.
Women’s coach Barbara Hartwig was more optimistic about the women’s team performance, stating that outside of the winning school it was “anyone’s race,” as teams two through seven were very evenly matched and only separated by 31 points. The University of Chicago took home the team title with 37 points, while New York University finished second with 96 and Carnegie Mellon University took third with 103.
“This is one of the strongest conferences in all of division three,” Hartwig said. “The way we responded to this level of pressure will serve us well at the regional meet in two weeks.”
Finishing first for the women’s team and earning third overall was standout senior Lauren Norton, with a time of 22:01:5. Senior Zarah Quinn took 15th overall and second for the Yellowjackets with a time of 23:06:1, while freshman Catherine Knox took 22nd overall and third for UR with a time of 23:06:1.
Danielle Bessette finished in 23:33:5 for 41st overall, while senior Meg Ogle took 47th overall in 23:40:7, completing the scoring for UR.
Despite what Hartwig said were several personal bests for the women’s team on a soggy course, the Yellowjackets still have work to do before regionals in two weeks, she said.
“We need to tighten up the distance between our scorers and we need to bring our displacers closer as well,” she said.
Hartwig said she will keep eight runners actively training for the national qualifier race in two weeks, although only seven will race, and said that the team will take a couple of recovery days before putting in the remaining set of challenging workouts.
“The money’s pretty much in the bank,” Hartwig said. “Today’s results should motivate us to see that we truly have a good chance to be in the top five at regionals.”
Quinn echoed this optimism, stating that she thought the team performed “very respectably,” especially considering the “stiff competition” of the UAA conference.
She also noted that she had one of the best cross country races of her running career, setting a personal record.
“We will use our successful performance at the UAAs as momentum for the real big meet — Atlantic Regionals,” Quinn said.
UR will host the NCAA Atlantic Regional at Genesee Valley Park on Saturday, Nov. 10.
Buletti is a member of the class of 2013.