I would like to make a suggestion for improvement on these widgets. It would be nice to have a class "last" added to the last post in the widget-area container. This is very useful if you have a responsive layout and you want to set a display:none to the last post when this one is uneven. For example you show 9 posts on a big display (3x3), but want to show only 8 on a smartphone (4x2). I know I can change this also myself in the genesis template, but with the next update it is gone again.
Also it is recommended to have wrappers around the image and the content, as well around the post itself. This works easier when you want to work with padding, without messing with the percentages on the whole post in your CSS.
The CSS Last Child selector may help you here:
Also you shouldn't make changes to Genesis Core as as you say, it gets removed in the update. It's better to use hooks and filters to amend the output.
You can also add your own wrappers using hooks. For example create 2 functions to output the opening of the wrapper and the closing of the wrapper then hook on to the before content hook and one onto the after content hook.
The hook reference might be useful to you: http://my.studiopress.com/docs/hook-reference/
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