By BRITTANY BIGGS
With championships in sight, the Cornell cross country teams competed in their final regular season meet this weekend on their own home turf at Makley Field in the John Reif Memorial Meet. The teams competed against programs from Syracuse and Cortland and took many of the top spots on both the men’s and women’s sides.
On the women’s team, sophomore Jess Elliot was able to take the top spot with a time of 18:11.9. She was joined in the Top-5 by freshman Suzie Petryk, sophomore Mary Barger and senior Dina Lacone. It was a meet of many personal bests for a team that has been working hard all season. Because the Red is only allowed to bring 12 to the meet next week, athletes who competed in this weekend’s meet will not be running in the Ivy League Heptagonal. However, they still contributed greatly to the zeitgeist of the team.
“I thought this meet provided us with a great deal of momentum heading into next week,” said head coach Artie Smith. “It was inspiring to see so many people running personal bests and producing so many huge seasonal bests. The times were surprisingly fast and that is a testament to the hard work the entire team has put in this fall. This team has been getting better every week and the momentum clearly continues.”
This weekend’s big winner also feels the optimism surrounding the team.
“We have all improved a lot individually over the past few months, but I think the most important thing is that we have learned to work together very well as a team,” Elliot said.
The men’s cross country team was also able to receive a large push from this weekend’s meet. The top finisher for the Red was senior George Oliver, who secured an eighth place finish. Sophomore Michael Wang also completed a Top-10 finish, coming in ninth place for the Red. The team was also able to see many personal best this weekend.
With a major meet next weekend, the team saw this meet as a major stepping stone.
“This season gets better every passing moment and has yet to have a peak,” Oliver said. “Every second, I’m getting excited thinking about the next few weeks when we’ll show the rest of the nation how fierce we are … Our tenacity has become our biggest strength, and I think we’re ready to prove ourselves as the fiercest team on the course next week.”
In football, there’s an ideology that anything could happen on “any given Sunday.” This is the idea that with proper preparation, anything could happen in a game. The Red has prepared all season. The team is now looking for its metaphorical Sunday. On this Sunday, the coaches have inspirational words for their athletes.
“Give their best and to have the confidence that their best effort will propel them to an outstanding performance,” Smith said about his message to the team. “Confidence is key and through their hard work and consistency, they’ve earned the right to toe the line at the Heps knowing they will be very successful.”
With a strong season under their belt, the cross country teams are prepared for whatever they may come across next week.