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The Sky is the Limit for Reinhardt and the Women’s Cross-Country Team

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In 2018, for the first time in program history, the UAlbany women’s cross-country team secured the America East Championship.

The top-5 of senior Hannah Reinhardt, senior Holly Machabee, junior Kaylah Quarshie, junior Kelly Iocca and 2019 graduate Cara Sherman ran a historic race. The team’s average time was 17:36 on a 5,000-meter cross-country course with hills, different terrains and obstacles.

Reinhardt finished first overall with a time of 16:54.75, 23 seconds ahead of the second runner, to become UAlbany’s first individual female winner in program history. Not only did she make history with her place at conference, she also broke her own previous school record, becoming the first female Great Dane to run sub-17 minutes.

A program may have had a legendary runner like Reinhardt, but the rarity was to have a strong team following close behind.  After her historic program finish, Reinhardt watched her teammates power through the line to secure five top-20 finishers. 

“Honestly, that was the best moment of my collegiate experience thus far,” said Reinhardt. “It was that gratification that all the pain, all the hard work that had gone not only into that one race, but the season as a whole, paid off.”

Despite the high finishes, there was still uncertainty of the final team standings. Stony Brook had won six America East team titles and were on UAlbany’s heels. With a final score of 46, the women’s cross-country team made history with their victory.

“I don’t think, that day, we could’ve gotten more out of their effort. Like when B.A. Baracus said, ‘I love it when a plan comes together,’” said coach Matthew Jones in reference to the famous TV series, The A-Team.

In cross-country, there are no starters or assigned substitutions, so the top five scorers are the five fastest people on that day.

“There’s a chance that half a dozen step up and play a role,” said Jones. “The goal is to be there at the end, get everyone healthy, get everybody moving in the same direction and be there on the same day.”

A successful team is often led by a fearless leader. For Reinhardt, a Clarence native, leading comes naturally. Jones said that she is a “leader by example” in how she executes herself in practice, on the course and the way she carries herself every day.

Coming in her freshman year, Reinhardt was recruited as a middle-distance runner and was trying to break 2:20 in the 800-meter (2019 America East champion record was 2:07). After a stellar cross-country race at the 2016 UAlbany Great Dane Classic, she solidified herself as a long-distance runner.

“The sky is the limit,” said Jones. “We don’t know what the limit is, we’re still making progress.”

For Reinhardt, most of her success originates from being motivated by her teammates. “Just having them around me all the time is more than 50 percent of why I do what I do,” said Reinhardt.

To cap off a successful career at UAlbany, she has set a high standard for herself. “I want to be a national qualifier. I think I’m at that level,” said Reinhardt with confidence. “It’s about staying happy, staying healthy and staying hungry.”

In 2019, for the first time in eight years, UAlbany will host this year’s America East Championships. The last time the Great Danes hosted the championships in 2011, the men won the school’s first ever triple crown – winning cross-country, indoor and outdoor track championships. In the 2018 season, the women became the first America East triple crown champions. Both teams are looking to use the home course advantage for another triple crown win. UAlbany will host the Great Dane Invitational on Oct. 18 and the America East Championships on Nov. 2, where they will look to defend their dog house.

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