This weekend, while most Cornell students will be celebrating the passage of another grueling semester, the Red track teams will try to ace one remaining test. The outdoor Heptagonal championship at Brown is the culmination of eight months of hard training and the Red will be fighting to call itself the best in the Ivy League.
“On paper, Princeton and Cornell will go toe to toe,” said men’s head coach Nathan Taylor. “I like to use the analogy of the heavy weight boxing match. You’ve got two big hitters going against each other for the whole meet. That was how last year transpired. It was very dramatic.”
The Tigers are ranked ahead of the Red in the national rankings and are the clear favorites. They have the historical advantage, winning five times in the past decade. The Tigers are very deep and could possibly score points in every event. Other teams the Red will watch out for are Penn and Dartmouth. Penn has improved throughout the season and will finally be healthy. Dartmouth will be competitive in several events and could play the role of spoilers. Perhaps, the team will recall the victory lap the Tigers took after they won the indoor Heps at Barton Hall in February.
“I think the guys feel like they were very close,” Taylor said. “I like to encourage people on the team to take everything and anything to motivate them and use it. Whether it is a personal thing or a collective thing or an externally directed thing — like you want to kick the living daylights out of someone.”
“I think the kids are excited more than anything else, to put it on the line,” Taylor said. “They have been working very hard for eight months for this one weekend, so they’re excited. It’s like the opening of a big Broadway show. They have been working hard to get the show in line.”
Princeton will be the foremost challenge of the women’s squad. The outdoor season includes the 10,000-meter and the steeplechase events, which are not part of the indoor season. Princeton has an edge in these events, as they boast three of the top six in the steeplechase in the Ivy League, and two national qualifiers in the 10,000. Led by several former Heps champions, they are very strong across the board from the distance events to the sprints.
Yale should fair much better at the outdoor Heps than they did at the Indoor Heps. Jocelyn Woodard will run in the 100, the 200, and the 4×100, while competing in the long jump, and she is a threat to win all of those events for Yale. They have a solid triple jumper, a league champion in the vault, and a consistent high jumper. Though strong, Yale is weak in the hurdles and the throws. Brown will benefit from the home field advantage. They are inspired by the fact that every time they have host the Heps they have won.
“I always hesitate to sound like I’m crying wolf,” said women’s head coach Lou Duesing. “I thought last year was going to be tight but Princeton showed up without a bunch of people. Because they didn’t show up, they opened the door for us. I think it’s going to be a knock-down drag-out meet and I’m expecting some sleepless nights.”
Excellent teams have excellent coaches and Duesing commended the effort his staff has put in all year.
“This team has great leaders in the coaching staff,” he said. “Rich Bowman, Mark Bilyk, and Artie Smith have given a lot day in and day out. Nathan Taylor has worked with our jumpers. They show the team that they care about them as students and athletes. The athletes grow to appreciate that. The coaches do a fantastic job and could be head coaches. Other schools don’t have this. The administration and the alumni really care.”
Archived article by James Brew Rich
Sun Staff Writer