The men’s and women’s cross country teams ventured away from campus this weekend, off to the Iona Meet of Champions at Van Cortland Park in the Bronx.
The ladies raced themselves to a sixth-place finish in the 26-team field, a respectable finish, but not quite up to Cornell’s standards.
“There were individuals that really ran well,” said head coach Lou Duesing. But, he added, “As a group, for whatever reason, we were a little bit off.”
Missouri took top honors in the meet with Wake Forest in second, followed by Division II powerhouse Adams State. Dartmouth and Yale rounded out the top five. All of the schools were placed below the Red in the most recent national poll.
There were several bright spots for the Red.
“[Junior] Jessica Parrot did the best job of the front-runners for us,” Duesing said. She didn’t get distracted. “After the half-way point, she did a good job,” he concluded.
He noted senior Sara Karam and freshman Emily McCabe for their overall improvement from their first races and also pointed to sophomore Jenn Meil for a good performance. Junior Christine Ecksaedt produced one of the best all-around races on the team he said.
Despite some positive individual performances though, the team’s results were disappointing.
“I thought we let a good opportunity slip away,” said Duesing.
The team, running in its first big race of the year, couldn’t get a good position early in the race, and by the time the runners recovered it was too late.
“Because we didn’t get a good start we suffered from it,” said Duesing.
“People gauged where they were [in the field] from teammates,” he explained, and they didn’t quite run their best race as a result.
The race doesn’t bode ill for the team in the long run though. It’s still early in the season, and it provides and important lesson. Duesing pointed to several valuable facets of the Red’s performance in the race.
It shows the importance of getting into position earlier in the race, going out of with confidence and performing to one’s utmost capability.
Furthermore Duesing expressed his confidence that the team would bounce back from the disappointment because of its training and because of its guts.
“I liked the way they came away talking to them.” They’ve learned a lot, he continued, and that knowledge will be valuable down the road in more important races.
“For us, the championships are at the end of the season. Everything else is a prelude.”
Men’s distance coach Robert Johnson echoed that final thought from Duesing in his remarks about the men’s race over the weekend.
For the men, this race was all about putting up a good performance and gaining experience, one more step building towards the end of the season.
“I paid almost no attention to the team competition,” said Johnson. “Time spent worrying about other teams is time wasted.”
“It was all about improvement. It showed that we’ve improved.”
Senior captain Dan Dombroski highlighted the Red’s performance at Iona with a 10th-place finish in the 263 runner field.
“Dan had a fantastic race,” beamed Johnson. “I knew he was in great shape going into the race,” he said, adding that Dombroski’s performance still surprised him.
Johnson pointed to several other runners as key performers in the meet.
Sophomores Emory Mort and Oliver Tassinari both put in solid runs, finishing in the team’s third and sixth positions, respectively.
Senior captain Geoff Van Fleet made his return to competition after an almost two-year-long absence from cross country at the hands of an Achilles injury.
“To see him out there competing really made my day,” said Johnson.
The coach also pointed to sophomore standout Bruce Hyde, the team’s second finisher, for his competitiveness, if not his pacing.
“He really went out and made an effort to run with the best,” Johnson said.
The team will need that kind of spirit, combined with responsibility, in the weeks to come.
“While I was pleased, we really have a long way to go,” said Johnson. “There’s no room for complacency, and the guys know that.”
So, the team’s rest after the race won’t last long. It’s time, as Johnson said, “to start pounding.”
“They improved in a really tough position,” Johnson said, at a big meet. But they still need to get better.
Archived article by Matt James