Taking its speed and strength on the road last Thursday, Cornell’s men’s and women’s track teams sent split squads to compete in the Sea Ray Relays at the University of Tennessee and the Bucknell Bison Outdoor Classic in Lewisburg, Pa. Sunday, both groups returned victorious, though tired, with six top-10 finishes at the Relays and six outright championships at the Bucknell invite. “In order to get into the Sea Ray Relays, there are some pretty strict qualifying standards,” said women’s head coach Lou Duesing. “It’s critical that some people get down to the Relays to see that kind of top-flight competition because it better prepares them for the championship part of the season. When they go into something like the ECACs or the NCAA regional championships, they see that the competition really ain’t no big deal.”
Cornell relay teams forged the trail in Tennessee, collecting four finishes among the top 10 at the Relays. Leading the way was an impressive fifth-place effort by the men’s distance medley relay squad of sophomore James Connolly, senior Aldo Gonzalez, sophomore Gordon Hall, and freshman Kolby Hoover. The team crossed the line in a time of 9:56.61. The women’s 4×800 team of junior Jessica Brown, senior Natalie Gingerich, junior Alison Koplar and sophomore Ruth Morgan notched a sixth-place finish in 8:59.32, while the women’s 4×400 squad took eighth-place in an extremely tight meet and qualified for the NCAA regionals later this spring. The women’s distance medley relay squad also placed 10th overall.
“From a place standpoint the 4×800 did a better job, but the 4×400 was a much hotter event,” Duesing said. “They ran an NCAA regional qualifying performance. But, while the 4×400 did stand out, there were really some quality performances across the board.”
A pair of individuals collected top-10 finishes at the Relays as well. Senior Giles Longley-Cook opened the day with a heave of 185-8 in the hammer throw, good for eighth place, and junior Alyssa Simon ran the steeplechase in 10:57.95 to cross the line in ninth.
At the two-day Bucknell event, a host of Cornell athletes won or placed in the top three in their respective events. Friday afternoon, sophomore Jamie Gruebel gave an inspirational performance in the first round of heptathlon events, finishing in first place with 2954 points. Gruebel won the 100 hurdles, shot put, and 200m run, while taking third in the high jump to edge Cobleskill’s Leslie Martin, who finished the first day in second place with 2514 points. Gruebel finished what she started the following day with wins in the javelin and 800m run to take the overall heptathlon championship by a 531 point margin.
“Jamie really did a good job, especially on the first day. It was as good a first day as she’s ever had,” Duesing said. “She had some trouble the second day, slipping and defaulting in the javelin, and she had some trouble finding the board in the triple jump, but she did a great job.”
Other laudable performances on the women’s team came from sophomore Angela Kudla and freshman Robyn Ellerbrock in the steeplechase, sophomore Emily McCabe in the 5K, senior Kinsy Miller in the 800m, and senior Ib Stanley-Ikhilioju in the triple jump. Kudla, who has dropped 45 seconds off her time in the steeple and set two personal bests in the past two weeks, took first in the event in 11:04.26. Following close on her heels was Ellerbrock, who set a freshman record while placing second in the event. In the 5K, McCabe crossed the finish line first in 17:19.67 — nearly ten seconds ahead of her closest challenger. Miller ran a 2:16.58 800m, good for second, and Stanley-Ikhilioju claimed silver in the triple jump with a bound of 11.37m.
Heading up the long list of top performers for the men were senior Ethan Albrecht-Carrie and sophomore Michael Spadafino, who competed head-to-head in the decathlon. Albrecht-Carrie took second place overall with 6264 points following two days of competition, while Spadafino placed fourth in the field. Though two places separated the athletes in the final standings, they swapped leads during individual events, usually finishing only seconds or centimeters apart. Freshman Aaron Arlinghouse also gave one of his best performances of the year in the steeplechase, placing first overall in 9:19.91, while sophomore Patrick McDonough shared the spotlight with his first-place high jump of 6’4″. Narrowly missing the winners’ circle were senior sprinter Rahim Wooley and junior middle-distance runner Mike Allen. Wooley’s time of 10.97 in the hundred was only one-hundredth of a second behind Bucknell’s Noel Powell, who won the race in 10.96. Allen’s gutsy performance in the 800m run came down to the wire with Bucknell’s Tom Prochilo challenging for position. But, as the two neared the finish line, Allen edged the Bison runner by 0.35 seconds to place second.
“The expectation that I had going into both meets was what I have for every meet: when it’s your turn to go, do the best that you can, because that’s the most anyone can expect from you,” Duesing said. “In all instances, I thought people competed very well, and it was a very good weekend.”
Archived article by Everett Hullverson
Sun Assistant Sports Editor