Tomorrow, the Red cross country squads will have the luxury of racing on two fast and flat courses. The competition on them, however, won’t be so forgiving. The men will send nine harriers to Terre Haute, Ind., for the Pre-National Meet at Indiana State. The rest of the men’s team, along with 19 woman runners, will travel to State College, Pa., for the Penn State National meet.
The men have not raced since the Iona Meet of Champions three weeks ago, a hiatus that distance coach Robert Johnson found advantageous.
“In years past we had races on back to back weekends, and in between you’d try to recover and get good workouts in at the same time,” he said. “This year, by taking that extra week off, we had one week in the middle where we really hit it hard in practice and had a great week of training.”
With three votes in the current coaches poll, the Red has earned a spot among the nation’s top 50 teams. This weekend’s race, which pits Cornell against No. 2 Stanford, No. 5 Michigan and several other powerhouses, will determine if it deserves to stay there.
“We’re running against six of the top 15 teams in the country, so we’re going to see exactly where we fit in terms of the national cross country landscape,” Johnson said.
The Red has a solid top three in junior Bruce Hyde, senior captain Emory Mort and freshman James Wyner. The remainder of the varsity squad is not as solidified as Johnson would like. “I’ve not been as pleased with numbers four through seven, and that’s really going to either make us or break us as a team,” he said.
Hyde believes the competition between his teammates will be beneficial.
“We have so many guys vying for those spots, it’s just going to make everybody run faster,” he said.
Indiana State’s eight kilometer course is considered so fast that Johnson envisions a team average of under 25 minutes for the race. Hyde ran the hills of Van Cortlandt Park in 25:02 at Iona.
“This course has a lot of wide turns and space on the sides to pass people,” Johnson said. “You can see exactly where you’re going and that helps because a lot of times the kids just aren’t used to being buried in 200 people.”
“It’s the least challenging course we’re going to run all year,” said Hyde. “It’s just a big field, kind of rolling. The challenge comes from the competition that we’re going to face there.” Along with the rest of the men, the women’s team will be traveling to Penn State, where they will face five ranked programs, including No. 2 Providence and No. 5 Duke. Coach Lou Duesing is relishing the chance to climb back into the national picture after finishing in the middle of the pack at the Notre Dame Invitational two weeks ago.
“This is a very good meet,” he said. “There will be 36 teams from across the nation, and it’s going to be busy. This is exactly the type of competition we would want to have at this point in the season.”
Seniors Kate Boyles, Sarah Coseo and Amber McGown, and junior Mandy Knuckles, all finished in the top 100 at Notre Dame. They will look to lead their teammates again on Penn State’s quick 6K course.
“It’s a very fair course,” Duesing said. “It starts off pretty doggone fast going downhill, but there’s some good, challenging gradual hills. I think when people are fit they have a tendency to maintain speed well on those hills.”
Archived article by DAN SCHIFF
Sun Staff Writer