The last stepping stone before the much anticipated outdoor Heps meet was the historic Penn Relays, which saw Cornell athletes compete over the weekend against some of the most successful and storied track and field programs in the country. Men’s head coach Nathan Taylor was pleased with the performance of his team overall.
“Some things were good,” he said. “We won the [Heps] section of the [4x400], the high jump guys were really good. In general, it was a pretty good meet with some very good times.”
Sophomore Kinsley Ojukwu expressed his excitement for being at such a historically prestigious meet with his teammates.
“We were so hyped up that first day going in,” the sprinter said. “It was awesome. All the best teams, they were all there. I thought it was an awesome experience.”
The men’s team saw a multitude of strong performances, including 10 IC4A qualifiers and four changes to the all-time Top-10 lists. A highlight for the Red was a second-place finish in the championship section of the high jump by sophomore Montez Blair with a jump of 7-3.25, which was good enough for one of the Top-10 jumps in the NCAA this year. Sophomore Peter Roach was fourth in the college section of the pole vault clearing an IC4A qualifying height of 15-9. The men’s 4x400 quartet comprised of seniors Dan Thomas, Brian Freitas and Ken McClain and freshman Rutger Admirand ran 3:14.62 to win the Heps race and a Penn Relays wheel.
The women’s team also performed well, with six Top-10 individual finishes, three Top-10 relay finishes and eight ECAC qualifiers. A highlight of the meet was sophomore Emily Shearer placing second in the 3000, with a time of 9:25.95 — breaking the 22-year-old school record previously held by hall of famer Stephanie Best ’91. In the 3000 steeplechase, sophomore Rachel Sorna placed fourth with a time of 10:22.31. In the field, junior Claire Dishong had a season best and ECAC qualifier in the discus with a throw of 142 feet for 13th place in the college section.
According to Taylor, although the Red’s performance at Penn Relays was impressive, it was all an effort to better prepare for the Heps meet this weekend.
“All of it is really in preparation for this week,” he said. “This week is when the money is really on the table.”
Women’s head coach Rich Bowman said that he feels confident in the health of his team, and is looking forward to seeing them compete this weekend.
“We’re healthy, and for the first time everybody’s really excited about getting in and getting after it,” he said. “I think the depth of our team is going to lead us to a lot of success this weekend. They’re a veteran group. They know what to expect and how to do it.”
Taylor said that he feels confident leading up to this weekend.
“My job for preparing people to run is nearly done,” he said. “It’s up to [my team], and they’re as ready as they can possibly be from a training perspective, and a psychological perspective. As a coach, I’ll get people riled up before the meet, so it’ll be fun.”
The men’s and women’s teams are seeking their first Heps outdoor titles since 2010, both matching up against Princeton.