This past weekend the Cornell men’s and women’s track and field teams brought significantly smaller squads to the IC4A/ECAC Championships in Boston, but that did not keep the Red from high performances and all-time bests. Just one week removed from competing at Indoor Heps, both the men’s and women’s teams were eager for another chance to race, as the men finished 10th and the women 15th.
For the men, IC4As is a historic championship, which Cornell has won several times. However, since it occurs after the NCAA qualifying period, athletes cannot qualify for the national championships at IC4As.
“Having Heps right before has changed this meet for us,” said men’s head coach Adrian Durant. “It’s hard to muster the full strength of the team back-to-back. When you are balancing winning a championship, for us, Heps is the first goal.”
However, the strength of the team carried through to the IC4A. The distance medley relay finished third with a time of 9:53.04, a sixth all-time mark for the Red. Junior Chase Silverman was runner-up in the mile, posting a personal best of 4:04.82, and junior Dominic DeLuca won the 3,000 with a 8:06.60, the seventh best all-time for Cornell — both results came after competing at Heps the weekend prior. For DeLuca, this culminates an impressive 14-second drop in the 3,000 this indoor season when compared to last year.
The team’s performance is promising for the upcoming outdoor season, and Durant hopes to win the outdoor IC4A.
Women’s head coach Rich Bowman was equally as impressed with his team at ECACs. He alluded to the atmosphere at ECACs being less stressful than that at Heps, so the team was able to focus more on individual performances.
Juniors Shannon Hugard and Leah Triller both had personal bests and notched team points in the 1,000. From last year’s ECACs, Hugard dropped three seconds in the 1,000 by posting a personal best of 2:46.75, the eighth all-time best in the Ivy League.
While the women took a notably smaller team, Bowman was still happy with the results he saw in Boston, and especially happy with getting his younger runners action on a big stage.
“A lot of the team was tired from the last four out of five weeks on the road. We gave them the choice to go, and mostly middle-distance/distance runners went,” he said. “I thought those that went did a very good job. With the rest of the group, we brought some younger girls along just to get more exposure in a championship environment.”
“We just kind of played the super bowl the weekend before and didn’t want to do it again,” he added.
The younger team members he brought proved themselves in a championship setting. The 4×800 relay team placed 10th, led off by junior Devinne Cullinane and strongly closed by three freshmen — Ciara Roche, Reagan Bachman and Eleanor Smith — with a final time of 9:09.75. Later, Roche and Bachman were joined by freshman Sara O’Malley and junior Anne Charles for a 13th place finish in the Distance Medley Relay.
This completes the indoor season for all but two members of the entire track and field program. Two senior co-captains for the men — thrower Rudy Winkler and heptathlon competitor Austin Jamerson — are competing this weekend at the NCAA indoor championships at Texas A&M. The pair left Ithaca on Wednesday accompanied by Durant and throws coach Kevin Phipps.
Winkler, who has plenty of accolades to his name, is seeded third going into the meet. His three-peat Ivy Championship title in the weight throw puts him in a good position for this weekend, along with an 18th place hammer throw finish for the United States in Rio this past summer.
“I don’t have any serious expectations,” Winkler said. “I don’t take the weight as seriously as I do the hammer during the outdoor season. NCAAs is a really fun meet normally. It can be just as or more exciting as a lot of the international meets I’ve been to, especially because of the passion people have in competing for their schools.”
Despite Winkler’s lack of expectations, Durant sets a high bar for the 2016 Olympian.
“[Winkler] has a legit shot at winning nationals,” Durant added. “He can compete at Heps and win and still have more left in the tank.”
Jamerson qualified for nationals in the heptathlon two weeks ago at the Indoor Heps, winning the event by over 300 points to set a new Heps meet record and all-time Ivy record.
“It was actually my only chance to qualify, as some injury problems prevented me from completing a heptathlon, and Heps fell on the last week of the qualification window,” he explained. “The scores this year in the heptathlon have been incredibly high, so throughout the whole season I was keeping my eye on the national list, and getting more and more nervous.”
These nerves settled by the time championships came around, and Jamerson is seeded 13th for this weekend. Durant has no worries that competing on a national stage will faze Jamerson at all.
“He’s such a laid back guy,” Durant said. “For him, going to nationals, he’ll be relaxed, and he’s pretty confident. He’s a very good athlete, and he’s definitely able to get better. The competition is not too big for him.”
NCAAs begin Friday, and Jamerson will kick off the meet for the Red with the heptathlon at noon, CST. Live results can be found on the NCAA website.
“It’s always exciting when you have someone qualify for nationals. We have two of the best guys ever in the Ivy League,” Durant said. “It’s amazing when you have two guys that are the best ever in a league that has this much history.”