Winter storms and outdoor track do not mix. The men’s and women’s track and field team has to move their season opener back indoors. The Cornell Springtime Invitational will now be held in Barton Hall this Saturday, but this is no typical indoor meet.
Since the outdoor season has officially started, none of the times from this weekend will count toward qualifying, so the coaches have chosen to try something new.
“We’re going to run events you’ve never heard of indoors, be creative with it and give everybody a chance to do something even though it won’t count,” said women’s head coach Rich Bowman. “It’ll be fun and low-key.”
Right now, it is important for the team to maintain a consistent competition schedule, as they will be traveling and competing every weekend in April.
“The season goes really fast,” Bowman said. “It’s important that we work on our fitness these next few weeks, because once we get started it’s going to be racing every week and there’s going to be no time to really do anything else other than just compete.”
The women’s team is very strong in events that are not held indoors, such as the steeplechase, 400 hurdles and discus — just to name a few. Bowman looks forward to taking 31 members of his team to the west coast and into better weather for spring break, where the Red will compete in invitationals held in Los Angeles and Claremont, Calif.
Senior distance runner Delphi Cleaveland looks forward to the team building on its success from the indoor season.
“Everyone is pretty excited to hit the ground running happy and healthy as we approach training for outdoor,” Cleaveland said. “Our coaches have been encouraging us not to think of this outdoor season as a new start, but rather a build from our accomplishments and work we have already been putting in since December. It’s merely a change of scenery.”
Their accomplishments thus far are no small feat. Five school records have been broken this year — four of which were broken by freshmen. Freshman Brittany Stenekes broke a school record from 2002 in the 60 hurdles, and is likely eyeing the long-standing outdoor records as well.
The men’s team shares equally high expectations for this season.
“Our main goal, as always, is to bring home the Outdoor Heps championship,” said men’s head coach Adrian Durant. “I expect some great performances this outdoor season, some school records will definitely fall.”
The team is eager for redemption after narrowly losing Indoor Heps to Princeton. There is no room for error at this level of competition.
“As we approach this season’s training we’re focusing on keeping our heads sharp, going out and competing in practice every single day,” said junior sprinter Michael Smith. “If we get that done, there’s nobody that can beat this team.”
All eyes are on senior co-captain Rudy Winkler, as he will have one last season at Cornell to dominate in the hammer throw — the event he competed in for the United States at the 2016 Rio Olympic games. He closed his indoor season as a first-team All-American in the weight throw, and looks to defend his Ivy League title for the hammer this spring. He is first in the national preseason rankings for the hammer throw.
Athletes to watch this season also include senior co-captain Austin Jamerson as he takes on the decathlon, and the 4×100 relay team. Durant describes his 4×100 team as “a young squad that has tons of potential and talent.”
Both teams have a lot to look forward to — specifically the NCAA Regionals meet in Lexington, Ky. late this spring. The top 48 efforts in each event compete, and then an even smaller number advance to the national championships in Eugene, Ore.
The Red hopes to qualify as many athletes as possible for the regional meet, and considering the success just this year from seasoned veterans and talented freshmen, they should have no trouble doing just that.