Hurdle. High jump. Throw the shot put and run the 200-meter. Long jump, throw the javelin and top off the weekend with a blistering 800-meter run.
That is what a typical weekend of competition looks like for senior Jamie Greubel, who puts her energies not into perfecting and excelling in one specific event, but seven vastly different ones that comprise the heptathlon. Over her past four years at Cornell, Greubel has become one of the best multi-event athletes not only now, but in the history of the Ivy League.
Greubel came to Cornell from a small private high school where she hurdled and threw the shot put for her track team. During her first year with the Red, she maintained both events and added the five others included in the heptathlon into her repertoire. She picked up on the new events quickly, using the expertise of the coaching staff to her advantage and improving drastically.
“Jamie is very naturally strong and has a very good core,” women’s assistant coach Rich Bowman said. “She learned each of the other events and they have come a long way.”
After winning the outdoor Heptagonal championships that year, she seemed unbeatable. That was until she herniated three discs in her back from the strain of doing so much work, forcing her to miss the three months at the beginning of her sophomore season.
“For most kids that would dampen their spirits, but [hurting her back] just made Jamie work harder,” Bowman said.
Greubel worked through her pains during her sophomore year, and her hard work and dedication paid off the next year when she saw even greater success in the outdoor season. During that spring, Greubel won the heptathlon and provisionally qualified for the NCAA meet.
This year, Greubel has already set a new school record in the heptathlon with 5439 points, while at the same time setting personal records in five of the seven events. She also shattered the NCAA provisional qualifying standard, missing the “automatic” point total by a small margin but earning the second-best all-time score in the Ivy League’s history.
“I definitely didn’t expect to PR in five events,” Greubel said of the UC Irivine Classic heptathlon.
Bowman echoed this.
“Each week she seems to surprise us in one event or another,” he said.
Greubel’s success has not come without a lot of hard work, as is required to perform well in so many events. While most of her teammates spend time working with the same athletes and coaches throughout the week, Greubel bounces between event groups and coaching staff to develop a deeper understanding of the technical aspects of each event while training to increase her abilities.
“It is hard because you don’t have anyone who does the same things,” Greubel said. “But it is nice to work with people in different event groups.”
Managing her time has become increasingly important in being so successful in multiple events, and Greubel has definitely mastered this task. Juggling seven events is stressful on the body and on the mind, and as each event comes with its own aches and pains, the multi-athlete has the rare experience of enduring them all.
“[Competing in the heptathlon] can be very, very straining,” Greubel said. “Sometimes it will be a week until I can practice at 100 percent after finishing one.”
Because of the unique training schedules and stress on the body, athletes competing in multi-events gravitate towards one another, as they understand the difficulties. Greubel noted senior men’s co-captain Vito Spadafino as being a particular influence on her over the past four years.
“Vito has been a great teammate to have who knows what it is like to compete in a two-day event,” Greubel said. “He is definitely a big supporter when we are at meets.”
With the end of her collegiate campaign on the horizon, Greubel still has things she would like to accomplish both individually and as a team.
“Right now she is very focused on the NCAAs,” Bowman said. “She has had to re-focus her goals because she accomplished them early.”
Greubel noted that she would like to up the ante even more and qualify automatically for the NCAA Outdoor championships in Sacramento.
And from a team standpoint, Greubel would not mind leaving The Hill with eight Heptagonal championships under her belt.
“She has been a big part of the success of the team,” Bowman said. “She brings a lot of dedication and excitement to the team. It is hard to find someone who is talented in all of the events that she is, and it’s hard to find someone with the success that Jamie has had.”
Archived article by Erin Garry
Sun Staff Writer