January 19, 2007

Track Jumps Back Into Action

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This weekend, the Red will host the Upstate Challenge at Barton Hall. The competition features teams from all over upstate New York.

“The Upstate Challenge is a meet for us to sharpen up and get back into the season,” sophomore middle distance runner Andy Miller said.

Cornell dominated the event a year ago with both the men’s and women’s teams earning the top team scores. The women’s team won 12 events, while the men’s squad won 11. After a strong start to this season, the Red hopes to achieve similar results in the Challenge this season.

In last year’s event, current junior Jordan Lester set a school record in the 60-yard dash. Classmates Jason Brown, Ezike and co-captain Adam Seabrook also won individual events. For the women, senior Sarah Wilfred matched a school record in the high jump, which she has since broken.

This weekend will mark the fourth meet for the track team this season. Despite the grueling schedule, Miller claims the team is able to stay motivated for each one.

“Our approach is usually pretty good in terms of getting focused and getting ready for each meet,” he said. “Everyone can motivate themselves and is ready to go when they need to compete.”

While most Cornell students were enjoying a restful winter break, the track team was hard at work participating in weekly competitions throughout January.

The team’s first meet of 2007 was the Southern Tier Collegiate Open, which took place on Jan. 5, at Barton Hall.

Junior Muhammad Halim captured two of the men’s 11 event wins with strong performances in the long and triple jump.

The women’s team won 14 events, most notably the 1000 meters, in which senior co-captain Morgan Uceny set yet another school record. Freshman Natalie Gengel also set a school record by clearing 11-9 3/4 in the pole vault.

On Jan. 13, the Red competed in the Penn State Open. Despite a 12-team field, Cornell proved victorious in eight events, six of which belonged to the women. Wilfred captured the high jump title for the third time this season, setting a new school record in the process by clearing 5-11 1/2, the fourth-best performance in the country this season. Senior Toni Salucci placed first in the 3000-meter distance run.

On the men’s side, junior Saidu Ezike ran the 55-meter hurdles in the fastest time in meet history to win the event and Halim won the triple jump once again.

“We’re all basically ahead of schedule for this point in the season,” Miller said. “Everyone has been really solid.”