The men’s track and field team has a deep and talented roster, with athletes in a range of events and of every age earning accolades for the Red this year. But with the outdoor Heptagonal championships looming this weekend and nearly half of the team’s representatives coming from the freshman class, the impact the rookies has had on the track and in the record books is undeniable.
“That’s the real goal [of the season] — scoring at Heps and making it to [NCAA] Regionals,” Taylor said. “[The number of freshmen going to Heps] says a lot for the freshman class.”
At the Penn Relays last Friday, the men’s track and field distance medley relay of senior Oliver Tassinari, freshman Adam Seabrook and Jim Wyner, and junior Bruce Hyde crushed the Cornell record time by seven seconds. The quartet’s time of 9:33.72 earned them third place in the Championship of America race, trailing only Michigan and Arkansas.
Seabrook also won the 200-meter dash at the Big Red Invitational last Sunday. Upon hearing that Seabrook, whose split was 48.0 seconds in his leg of the realay, had won the ECAC men’s track and field co-Player of the Week, men’s track and field head coach Nathan Taylor was caught off guard.
“Adam ran a solid leg … and finished third in the championship of America,” Taylor said. “[But] the other three guys, they ran better than he did.”
Heading the list of outstanding freshman is Wyner, who ran a time of 1:48.50 in the 800-meter leg of the Red’s record-breaking distance relay this past weekend. Ranked 18th nationally in the 800-meter, Wyner has had a great impact on the middle distance corps with his speed and versatility. Not only does he hold the Cornell record in the 800-meter, but he’s also ranked 61st nationally in the 1500-meter (3:46.46 seasonal best), and has qualified for the NCAA Regionals in both events.
Despite suffering a fractured metatarsal and sitting out most of the outdoor season, fellow rookie Saidu Ezike is still a standout for the Red. He is Cornell’s freshman record holder in the 60-meter hurdles and was the first-place finisher in that event at the indoor Heps this past winter. In his first run since his layoff, Ezike shattered his old freshman record, and ran the sixth fastest 110-meter hurdles time in Cornell history.
“He had one day of practice before the Penn Relays,” said Taylor. “He basically ran it cold turkey … it’s great to have him back running.”
Another member of the sprinting corps, freshman Jordan Lester is also a freshman record holder and indoor Heps champion in the 60-meter dash. He too has been injured, and will not recover from his hamstring pull in time to finish the season. Had he stayed healthy, Lester would have been well-positioned to make a run at the Heps crown in the 100-meter event.
“It’s 100 percent or nothing in the sprints … and he can’t give his all [right now],” Taylor said.
Hurdlers Aaron Merill and Seabrook have had quite an impact as well. Both have burst onto the scene and added depth to the Cornell squad, qualifying for IC4A’s. Seabrook placed second in the 400-meter hurdles at the indoor Heps this winter, with Merrill also scoring important points.
“Aaron [Merrill] has the fastest time in the league in the 400-meter hurdles,” said Taylor. Runners have not been the only outstanding freshman. Triple jumper Muhammad Halim (15.52m) is currently ranked 28th in the country. He and sophomore Rayon Taylor, ranked 21st in the nation, are are the favorites for this week’s Heps, and have added to the talented roster of field athletes that the Red possesses.
According to Taylor, champions are made of hard work and talent, and Cornell’s freshman class seems to have both attributes. Taylor thinks this will give the Red a shot a league powerhouses Penn and Princeton.
“[Heps] should be pretty competitive,” said Taylor. “Unfortunately, I think it could be very close.”
Archived article by Josh Perlin
Sun Staff Writer