Everybody remembers the growing pains of freshman year — the staggering workload of an Ivy League education coupled with living in the frozen tundra of Ithaca. But for some first-year Cornellians, papers and prelims are only part of the introduction to college life. For these student-athletes, road trips, rigorous practices, and even a trip to a national championship tournament were part of the Cornell experience. Over three seasons, 10 sports, and on ice, grass, track, and hardcourt, these 10 freshmen donned the carnellian and white and put on a show that promises great things to come in the next three years.
Leslie Campbell, Women’s Soccer
For a stretch of 400 minutes this season, the women’s soccer team kept its opponents scoreless. The anchor for this defensive stonewall was Campbell, who proved she was a force to be reckoned with in the backfield despite her lack of collegiate experience. She was one of only two players to start all 17 games for the Red, and helped the defense record five shutouts this season. Her impact on the field was felt across the league as demonstrated All-Ivy honorable mention selection.
Brian Fairclough, Men’s Polo
Nobody would mistake Fairclough for basketball star Carmelo Anthony — yet both belong to the elite group of college freshmen who have laid claim to a national championship in their rookie campaigns. Fairclough had two goals in the title matchup, in which the Red edged Virginia, 21-19. He also helped power the Red to a third straight regional title, staking the Red to an early lead in a 23-10 victory over Connecticut. The rookie was a consistent contributor all season long for Cornell, earning a spot in the starting lineup alongside two veteran seniors and gaining accolades as an All-East selection.
Courtney Farrell, Women’s Lacrosse
With nearly half of women’s lacrosse team’s roster made up of freshmen, the Class of 2008 was bound to play a large role in the Red’s fortunes this year. And Farrell is at the head of her class. With one game remaining in the season, Farrell is the Red’s leading scorer with 26 goals and a deadly .553 shooting percentage. She is second on the team in assists, having piled up 10 helpers so far. Farrell opened her rookie season with an assist in an 11-8 victory over Notre Dame and quickly gathered momentum. Against upstate rival Colgate on March 30, she notched a season-high five goals. She has become a consistent threat for the Red, most recently lighting up Harvard and Rutgers for three goals apiece in two wins this past weekend.
Robbie Fritz, Golf
Fritz was the freshman phenom in a season that culminated with the golf team’s second-place finish at the Ivy League Championships this spring, the Red’s best showing in 25 years. Fritz showed flashes of brilliance in the fall, especially at the Bucknell Invitational where he stumbled to an 83 the first day and then made a roaring comeback in the second day of competition with a 69 — the only sub-70 round of the tournament. At the league championships in the spring, Fritz finished with a 219 after three rounds, including an even-par 72 in the final round to earn a tie for sixth place overall and become the first Cornell golfer to earn All-Ivy honors as a freshman.
Brian Kaufman, Baseball
The baseball team claimed the Ivy League’s Gehrig Division title this past weekend — the first time in 10 years that a team other than Princeton has earned the honor. Kaufman played an essential role in the Red’s rise to the top, hitting .336 and leading the team with 12 doubles, five triples, and 20 RBIs. He also boasts a .429 on-base percentage and a .527 slugging percentage, second on the team in both categories. The rightfielder earned his second Ivy League Rookie of the Week nod after hitting .417 with two doubles, one homer, seven RBIs, and six runs scored. This performance included Kaufman’s two-run walkoff double in the bottom of the ninth inning against Penn to give the Red a narrow, 2-1, victory and the lead in the Gehrig Division.
Lindsay Krasna, Women’s Basketball
The 2004-05 campaign was destined to be a rebuilding year for the women’s basketball team, which did not return a single starter from the year before. Yet, Krasna, the team’s leading scorer, helped lay the foundation for great things to come with a rookie season in which she averaged 13.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.2 steals per game in Ivy League play. She became only the fifth women’s basketball player in the Ancient Eight to win the Rookie of the Week award at least seven times, and also earned recognition as a member of the All-Rookie Team. Krasna made the adjustment to the college game appear easy, making her mark in the league as only one of three players to be ranked in the top-10 for scoring and assists during the season. She also set a school record for free-throw percentage in a season with her league-best .871.
Jenn Meunier, Softball
The softball team came into this season trying to live up to last year’s exceptional finish, when they captured the Ivy League title. But, this year, the Red missed four All-Ivy starters from the championship squad. Meunier helped fill the void on the mound, throwing her way to a 16-4 record and 2.46 ERA heading into the Red’s final doubleheader of the season this week. Meunier struck out 64 batters in 134 innings while helping Cornell to a second-place finish in the league. She earned Ivy League Co-Rookie of the Week honors April 26, after going 3-0 against Syracuse, Dartmouth, and Harvard in a key stretch of the Red’s journey to the top of the league standings. Against the Green, Meunier gave up just two hits in a complete-game shutout.
Topher Scott, Men’s Hockey
Make all the jokes about his size that you want — there’s nothing funny about how the 5-6 Scott plays on the ice. The scrappy rookie was the fourth-leading scorer for the men’s hockey team this year with five goals and 19 assists. He made his debut with two goals in the team’s first game of the season, an exhibition against McGill, and added his final points of the year with an assist on the game-winning goal in the Red’s 3-2 overtime victory over Ohio State in the NCAA West Regional semifinal. This assist capped a streak of five games in which Scott earned points with either a goal or an assist — a run that included the second game of the ECACHL quarterfinal series against Clarkson, in which Scott scored the game-winning goal in overtime to send Cornell to Albany, N.Y., for the championship round. Maybe his teammates said it best when they chose Scott as the recipient of the Greg Ratushny Award, given to the player who exemplifies enthusiasm, camaraderie, and promise for the future.
Jimmy Wyner, Men’s Cross Country and Track
Wyner hit the ground running in his rookie cross-country campaign, and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down yet. At the cross country Heptagonal Championships, Wyner was the third Cornell runner to cross the line, coming in 32nd in a time of 25:50.7. He proved he was capable of running with the big dogs, finishing 132nd at the Pre-Nationals at Indiana State University, the second-best showing by a Red harrier. Through the indoor and outdoor track seasons, he has continued to be a vital contributor for the Red, which won the indoor Heptagonal championship this year. He earned several individual victories in the 800-meter event, as well as helping the Cornell distance juggernaut sweep the 1,000-meter at several meets this year.
Brianne Schimdt, Women’s Hockey
Although the women’s hockey team finished the season left out in the cold as the ECACHL playoffs began, the play of Schmidt provided a flame of hope for next year. Schmidt led the team in scoring in her rookie campaign, finding the back of the net nine times and added seven assists during the 2004-05 season. Schmidt established herself as a scoring threat early in the season, scoring three goals in two games as Cornell swept Union early in November. The Red repeatedly fell victim to late rallies as the sea
son wound down, but Schmidt helped keep the team’s playoff hopes alive. She contributed a goal in a 6-5 overtime loss to Princeton on Feb. 12.
Archived article by Olivia Dwyer
Sun Assistant Sports Editor