February 18, 2005

Track Readies for Heps

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The track teams will take a break from their record-setting ways to slow down and remember a former teammate tomorrow in the midst of preparations for the Heptagonal Championships at the Marc Deneault Memorial Invitational in Barton Hall.

The Red triumphed at both the Penn State Challenge and the Kane Invitational last weekend, with the men’s team emerging with a provisional NCAA qualifier in the distance medley and boasting 24 athletes who broke the IC4A standards. The women ended up with 15 athletes who posted ECAC qualifying times.

This weekend’s competition is the fifth annual memorial meet that features multi-divisional, non-scoring competition.

“This is a meet that is for us — number one — a memorial meet for a member of the track team that was tragically killed in an automobile accident,” said women’s head coach Lou Duesing. “Another reason is that it’s a week before Heps. We approach it as a meet that is for fine-tuning.”

Twenty teams — including NYU, St. Lawrence, Hartwick, Alfred State and several Division II programs — will be competing at Barton tomorrow. Cornell athletes will be competing outside their signature events in an effort to conserve energy for Heps and have the opportunity to shine in a different distance.

“Most people — certainly on the women’s side — will not be in their ‘true’ event,” Duesing said. “We’re just using it for sharpening-up purposes. In some cases, some people won’t be running this weekend because what is best for them is to take the weekend off.”

But the coaches do not expect the meet to be any less competitive than other competitions. Duesing also pointed out that record-breaking performances are never out of reach for the teams, which have been re-writing the Cornell books all season long.

“What I tell people is that you never know when you’re going to have a good race performance,” he said. “If it was that predictable, it would be boring. The best thing they could do to make themselves as sharp as possible is get out and get after it — no different than they would in any other meet.”

And while records may not fall across the board, personal records and the opportunity to compete at ECACs and IC4As will also be on the line.

“Some people who are not on the bus want this performance to get them on the bus to make that trip,” Duesing said. “In the case of ECACs, there are people who are just shy of qualifying marks that I know would love to get that performance in this meet that would hopefully provide opportunities later on. I would fully expect those performances.”

And outstanding performances have become the norm for the Red this year. On the men’s side in last weekend’s competition alone, three freshmen set schools records and there were eight changes in top-10 all-time rankings, as the team claimed two overall victories and brought home 11 top-five finishers. The women’s team was also strong, recording six top-five finishes at Penn State, winning three races and notching 18 top-three finishes at the Kane Invitational.

“Part of getting sharp is getting sharp physically — but also mentally,” Duesing said. “To go through the motions kind of un-does some things we’ve been working hard to create. It will never be the case on any team that I have that they will jog through a race or take anything lightly — only because if they’re going to do that, then don’t do it.”

Archived article by Olivia Dwyer
Sun Staff Writer