Tobe Attah will compete in the 400m dash this weekend at Ivy HEPS held in Barton Hall

Courtesy of Cornell Athletics

Tobe Attah will compete in the 400m dash this weekend at Ivy HEPS held in Barton Hall

February 26, 2016

Stories from an Athlete: Tobe Attah Predicts Greatness for Cornell Track and Field at the Ivy League Championship

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Less than 24 hours remain before the 2016 HEPS Championships this weekend. Ever since I returned to campus in August to start the season and semester, earning an Ivy League title has constantly entered my mind, and now the opportunity is finally here. The Cornell men’s track and field team has built up such a strong base of athletes, and we are more than ready to reclaim our crown at Barton Hall.

Princeton got the better of us last time we met for the 2015 Indoor HEPS at Harvard. To be honest, it was a total slaughter — Princeton managed to score 161 points and we only managed to scrape up 98 for second place. Even with big performances from the likes of our Stephen Mozia and Rudy Winkler, Princeton had depth in too many events.

But this year is going to be a completely different story. With fewer injuries across the board for Cornell, I think we will be more than ready to avenge our loss in the comfort of our own home.

As a junior, the HEPS has become a track meet that means so much to me. I see it as a chance to represent the Ivy League and putting everything I worked for all year on the line. It is undoubtedly one of the most high energy meets in the NCAA, which is remarkable because it’s only between eight schools!

This meet is not only intense for the athletes, but for the coaches themselves. What is so special about this year’s HEPS is that it is head coach Adrian Durant’s first time hosting and leading his team as a head coach, making it one to remember for him. I honestly would not be half the athlete I am today if it were not for his coaching and deep understanding for the sport of track and field. Winning his first Ivy League title would mean the world to him, and I know I will do my part to help earn this reward.

And let’s not forget about the seniors! I myself think about how special having HEPS at home is during my warm-ups, but it pales in comparison to the emotions the senior class must be having. I’m sure teammates of mine like Max Hairston and Ryan Hynes are having mixed feelings about their last indoor HEPS being at Barton, considering it has been a second home to them ever since their freshmen years.

One thing for sure is that Cornell is the favorite to win the Indoor HEPS title. As of Feb. 23, we are projected to outscore Princeton by a fairly wide margin based on our season’s best performances. I myself am projected to place second in the 400m dash, but anything less than first in my own house is not in my personal projection. I, along with the rest of my teammates, have worked hard throughout the season to blow our past performances out of the water, meaning the other Ivy League schools better hope for a miracle against us.

To simply put it, coach Durant has devised a carefully calculated season for us athletes to be ready for the big show. Letting key performers rest when necessary as well as having younger members prove themselves throughout the season has facilitated a perfect system to select the top 33 performers on the team.

We 33 athletes have to accept that HEPS only comes to Barton Hall every four years, so the chance to represent the ‘C’ on our chest at home happens once in a lifetime. With all of the measures we take to take care of our bodies, schoolwork and each other, we will collectively perform at our highest levels to take what is ours.

The 2016 Indoor Ivy League Heptagonal Championships kicks off on Saturday at 11 a.m. and the finals for running events follows on Sunday. This is the only chance you have to see the Cornell track and field team dominate the Ivy League. We may have been down-and-out last year, but we will come back with a fierce vengeance and earn back our title.

  • Marina Caitlin Watts

    Great article Tobe. First off, so happy you got involved in the Sun! The information and background about the other teams definitely raises the stakes for Cornell this year, and makes the article an exciting read. Background information like that is important, as it emphasizes the grandeur of Saturday’s events. There is also a good balance of a narrative for readers to follow. Great preview piece for Saturday’s events, and I’m sure anyone who reads it will definitely want to swing by Barton tomorrow. Also, good luck!!

  • Matthew Hakimian

    Awesome article Tobe. Having run track for four years in high school, I totally get the excitement and nerves you must be feeling before the race tomorrow – hopefully the home field advantage at Barton Hall gives the team a lift. It definitely seems like you haven’t taken the opportunity to run at Cornell for granted at all, which is admirable to say the least. Best of luck tomorrow! Go Big Red!

  • Chris Fraser

    I’m glad you guys were able to get a lot of support at the HEPS this year, Tobe. Confidence is key and I’m sure you all will do extremely well in the spring. Good luck!

  • Jordan Wechsler

    It’s so refreshing to hear about sports at this school that aren’t team ones, since, while our team sports are great to watch, we have so many athletic events on this campus, and I think that most people don’t realize how meaningful they are to a population of the campus. It is also great to hear about a sport’s event on our campus from the perspective of an athlete without needing an interview to get the information across. I definitely agree with your assessment that the seniors must have such a strong bond with the Track and Field, and that their emotions are extremely high for this event.

  • Alana Cunningham

    Great article Tobe! I liked that you spoke about not just the athletes but the coaches because they are just as invested in a Big Red win. You all spend countless hours training for your big moment, and it does not go unnoticed. I am glad you finally had the chance to compete in the HEPS on your own turf. LGR!

  • Ellen Barrett

    Awesome read! As an athlete myself, I definitely understand the feeling of thinking about your championship all year and then one day finding yourself just 24 hours before the meet or race. It’s crazy to think about how much it took to get there. I also loved how this article read. It felt like I was reading a journal — very honest and enthusiastic. Nice job!

  • Devin Moss

    Dope article Tobe. I appreciate that commitment you have to winning and I loved how you said even though you were projected to finish second in the 400m, anything less than first is not in your personal projection. I feel like that never say die attitude is why athletes can be successful in any field, I am sure you will be too.

  • Tobenna Attah

    Thanks all!