After an abnormally warm, but long, winter, spring has finally sprung, and with the change in the weather came the start of outdoor season for the Cornell men’s and women’s track and field teams. Thus far, both teams are running on all cylinders, and as the season is relatively short, each squad is already making preparations for Outdoor Ivy Heps coming up in early May.
To end the indoor season, the men’s team finished in second place behind rival Princeton at the Ivy League indoor championships back in late February, but as the favorites, the result was disappointing.
“We were the favorites going in and had been doing very well all year, but when it came time to step up to the plate, Princeton just did a better job of showing up,” said men’s head coach Adrian Durant after the meet held in Ithaca.
Ever since, the Red has been using this as motivation in all of its outdoor meets.
“A loss like that is tough to take,” Durant said. “We have to figure out what we can do to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
Cornell’s trip out West over spring break was just what the teams needed to get the outdoor season started. The Red took first place at the UC-Riverside Spring Invitational and was runner up at UCLA’s spring invite.
Later in the season, the team excelled at the unscored Bucknell Invitational where the men won six events. This past weekend, they dominated both the Larry Ellis Invite at Princeton and the Upstate Challenge at home. Durant called it the “perfect weekend” with Heps quickly approaching.
The Red has two more tune up events still to go, but all eyes have turned to Ivy Heps and a rematch with this year’s host, Princeton.
Durant said he is happy with the way his athletes are performing but has warned them about complacency.
“When you are competing well it is easy to become complacent,” Durant said. “In order to win the Outdoor Heps we’ll have to stay hungry and go into the meet with an underdog mentality regardless of what the ranking and performance lists shows. We need to compete like all the odds are against us, and fight until the end.”
Despite teaching this mentality, Durant said he wants his team’s morale to remain high and he knows the circumstances this year are different from last. Junior jump specialist Bobby Plummer said he knows his team is quite strong this outdoor season and is looking forward to it paying off soon.
“We have stronger jumping and sprinting groups than ever,” Plummer said. “We push each other to get better everyday at practice, and that will prove to be the defining difference at the end of this season.”
The women’s team also finished second at Indoor Heps, but their team outlook was markedly different. At the time, head coach Richard Bowman was very proud of the runner-up result, as many had expected a much lower finish.
After that strong showing, the women have been looking to ride that wave of success throughout the outdoor season and will try to one-up themselves come May 7 at Outdoor Heps.
“I think we had great momentum indoors. We finished on a positive note, and it’s our job to keep that going,” Bowman said. “We can only hope to keep this pace up… I think we’re at a good place.”
The women, who have a very similar schedule to the men, also went out West to California to kick off the outdoor season. Completing the Cornell sweep, they won the UC-Riverside Spring Invitational, and finished in the top five at UCLA in a competitive 10-team field.
They also had very impressive results at the Buffalo Outdoor Invitational. This past weekend, Cornell sent athletes to UVA while several others stayed home to compete in Ithaca, and the weekend was a great success, according to Bowman. The Red will compete Thursday through Saturday at Penn and will then host the Big Red Invitational on Sunday before heading to Princeton for Ivy championships.
Bowman said he remains confident, but is hoping his team stays healthy.
“Just [remaining] healthy is huge,” he said. “It’s been a long year. We have been doing this for many many weeks and it can get a little tiring for sure.”
Sophomore Taylor Radoslav said she cannot wait for Heps and has seen her team grow throughout the year.
“This year we have different strengths and a new perspective on our season,” Radoslav said. “I think we’ve grown as a team throughout it, and the expectations we have for ourselves are greater. We tend to be a better outdoor team competitively, so knowing that gives us all more positive energy going into each competition.”
Both teams are fully prepared and anxious to show their stuff as they look to close out their spring seasons in the winner’s circle on May 7 in Princeton.