After making great strides last season, the men’s indoor track team hits the ground running with a full head of steam, ready for a new year and new opportunities.
With almost all of the starters returning and a stellar 18-man freshman recruiting class eager to chip in, head coach Nathan Taylor is optimistic about the potential of this year’s squad.
After sporting a nearly flawless 13-1 dual meet record and jumping from 9th to 7th at the Indoor Heptagonals last year, the Red is poised to continue this upward trend.
In order to do so, the Red will need big time performances from many different elements of the team, and strong leadership from the veteran captains.
As the tracksters prepare for their opening meet, the Cornell Relays on December 2nd, they will be lifted by the return of Richard Denault and Geoff Van Fleet, crucial upperclassmen in the sprinting and distance units of the team, respectively. Van Fleet will be returning from a serious injury that kept him out of the lineup last year, and Denault will be coming back after taking a year off in the wake of the tragic death of his brother Marc.
“[Richard] is a dynamic team leader,” Taylor said. “He has a great attitude, and is always very positive and energetic. The sprinters really missed him last year.”
On the flip side, the team must cope with the loss of the senior leadership of graduates J.P. Pollak and Nat Toothaker, both jumping specialists who scored countless points last season. Taking over their roles will be tri-captains Colin Moore, Nick Senter, and Peter Ippel.
In the sprints, the Red will be sparked by the return of Denault, the physical and mental leader of the corps. Sophomore sensation Quinton Carew returns this year after having a strong rookie season in which he had the best freshman time at the IC4As in the 55-meter dash. In the hurdles, senior Doug Heulitt, a Heps scorer, should lead the way.
The distance squad will be anchored by Moore who returns after placing 4th at the Heps and IC4As in the mile. He will be running anything between the 1000 to 3000 meter races. Van Fleet along with Max King, Chris Ondrak, and Matt Gallagher look to round out the middle and long distance crew. Look for strong performances and great competition amongst these men in the mile run and the 800-meter dash.
The jumping corps will look to maintain the dominance that it had last year. Ippel and Senter will be looking to have great seasons in the high jump and long jump, respectively. In addition, junior All-Ivy pole-vaulter Scott Lundy should help out in the points column for this squad. However the numbers don’t stop here, as this is possibly one of the deepest units of the team. Junior triple jumper Neal Okarter rebounded from a nagging injury to earn All- East honors last season. A number of freshmen are also expected to contribute.
In the throwing events, Jeremy Blanchett will again anchor the squad in the 35 lb weight toss. All-Ivy sophomore Brett Coffing will complement Blanchett in the discus and shot put. Both of these men will be looking to score in the Heps and potentially qualify for the NCAAs. Rounding out the unit will be freshman Didier Lecorps and Zach Bauer, both of whom were nationally-ranked high school throwers in the discus and hammer.
This year’s squad should be one of the deepest in recent history. The return of the leaders in the majority of the events compounded by the outstanding freshman class should lead to some great competition during practice. This year the squad boasts an impressive four freshman that were ranked in the top 40 in the country in their respective events. In addition, Taylor feels that the squad has about 20 guys, up from eight or nine last year, who can legitimately score points at the Heps.
This increase could lead the Red to end up as high as second at the Heps, which would be a huge stride forward from its seventh place finish last year.
So far, Taylor is pleased with what he has seen and expects the Red to be competitive in every meet that it competes in. The team will be looking for great success in the dual meets again this season and will hope to capitalize with another improved performance at the Heps in February.
Taylor summed up his squad’s prospects by saying, “We have a lot of guys who can compete at the Championship level.”
With hard, intensive training and a deep squad of old leaders and new faces, the Red is poised for another run at the coveted Heps Championship.
Archived article by Peter Bernstein