After weeks of practice and intense summer training, the Cornell men’s and women’s cross country teams will finally get the chance to compete today against Army at West Point. The women will run at 4 p.m., with the men’s squad following at 4:45 p.m. The dual meet will allow both the runners and the coaches to gauge their progress in a way that practices have not been able to.
“It’s hard to predict how these guys will do in a five mile cross country race when they only did a 2.5-mile time trial on the track,” said men’s distance coach Robert Johnson. “You can’t simulate a cross country race in practice.”
It’s equally impossible to simulate West Point’s demanding eight-kilometer course, which snakes over a golf course and a ski slope.
“It’s an unbelievably hard course,” said senior Bruce Hyde, who ran it in 26:29 in 2002. “I’ve been all over the country the past two years and it’s the toughest cross country course I’ve run in college, for sure.”
For the Red, today’s face off will provide the chance for retribution. The Black Knights took all top three spots last year in cruising to an easy victory at Cornell’s Moakley course. In fact, it’s been three years since Cornell last topped Army in their season opener.
“We think it’s important to get out there and make a good statement,” Hyde said. “We got beat pretty bad by Army last year and they probably expect to do the same thing again.”
The Red, led by Hyde and senior captain Emory Mort, will be up against a young Black Knight crew that was picked to finish third in the Patriot League preseason poll.
“Army should be a good test because they were significantly better than us last year,” Johnson said. “I think they’re going to be surprised by how much better we are.”
The Red placed seven of the top ten finishers against Army in 2003, continuing a string of recent success against the Knights. Women’s coach Lou Duesing is looking forward to the season opener — but remains ambivalent about his athletes’ chances for success against a deep Army team picked to finish second in its conference.
“I just want it to be a good start,” he said. “I have no idea how good, bad or indifferent Army is. The first meet is really to just get our feet wet.”
The Red harriers, led by senior Kate Boyles, are excited about toeing the starting line for the first time this autumn.
“Everyone is in phenomenal shape,” said senior captain Sarah Coseo. “I think we have a great team this year, and this first meet is the first chance we have to prove that.”
Archived article by Dan Schiff
Sun Staff Writer