If you walk into Adrian Durant’s office, one of the first things you might notice is the towering Heps trophy from last year’s record breaking victory. Engraved with the names of past champions, the trophy is given to the winning team each year. Durant, the head coach of men’s track and field, has no intentions of leaving that trophy in New Haven this coming weekend.
The men’s and women’s track and field teams finished up a busy weekend as they continue to prepare and fine-tune for the conference championships beginning May 6. Members from both teams competed at several different meets this past week — the Ithaca College-hosted meet last Tuesday, the Penn Relays and the Big Red Invitational on Sunday.
Each meet had a different character and atmosphere. The Penn Relays is the oldest meet in the country, and this year’s event marked the 123rd running. Participants included athletes from high schools, colleges, and club teams. This is usually a large event for Cornell, but since the meet fell just a week before Heps, only a few runners made the trip.
The Big Red Invitational drew a nice crowd on an overcast afternoon at the Kane Sports Complex this past Sunday. The team was in good spirits and competed quite well.
Senior co-captain and 2016 Rio Olympian Rudy Winkler broke his own facility record in the hammer throw with a toss of 237’2”.
Freshman sprinter Andy Snyder — the only runner under 49 seconds in the 400m — won the event with a time of 48.99. Durant was especially pleased with this performance, as Snyder will be competing at Heps in the 400m and the 4x400m relay.
“[Snyder’s time] will move him up in the league rankings,” Durant said. “Right now, if you’re running 48 with the conditions of this outdoor season, you’re probably going to score at Heps.”
For the women, sophomore Briar Brumley led the field for the entirety of the 800m, crossing the finish line in 2:13.68. The race was dominated by the Cornell women, who swept places one through five.
While the entire team did not compete at all three of these meets, the teams accomplished what they needed to. Those that did not qualify for IC4A/ECACs completed their outdoor season this weekend, and the 36 men and 36 women that have the opportunity to represent the Red at Heps are ready to go.
Freshman hurdler Brittany Stenekes is someone to watch this weekend. At Indoor Heps, she set a school record in the 60m hurdles, and she currently holds the freshman record in the 100m hurdles outdoors.
“I am looking forward to the energy and excitement that the team brings at Heps. My upper-class teammates have been so great at initiating this,” Stenekes said. “We have all faced other strong competitors on the track, on the field and in the throwing circle. Learning how to challenge ourselves to be competitive and be our best against our rivals has really prepared us for this weekend. I know our team has its sights set on winning the Ivy League championship.”
Senior co-captain for the men’s team Austin Jamerson will be competing at his last conference championship for Cornell and wants to go out on top.
“I don’t think it has really set in yet that this is the last Heps I’ll be competing at,” Jamerson said. “I have amazing memories from the previous seven Heps teams that I’ve been a part of, and I am looking forward to competing one last time with the team, and my senior class.”
He won the heptathlon at Indoor Heps this season, and looks to win the decathlon this weekend. If you talk to any member of the men’s team, it is evident the goal is redemption from the loss to Princeton indoors.
“This is a good team … we certainly can win it, and I feel confident about it,” Durant said. “I feel much better going into this meet than I did going into the indoor meet.”
The weather in New Haven this weekend is not looking too promising, but the team is used to training and competing in poor conditions. From a competitive standpoint, it puts the athletes in a good position. However, if rain does come into play, it may jeopardize athlete’s chances at achieving NCAA regionals time standards.
As for the conference championship and bringing back the trophy, Durant put it best: “It’s going to come down to who wants it most.”