Having coached at Penn State and Missouri in the past, women’s track & field head coach Lou Duesing has admittedly seen some hotly-contested conference meets.
But, as he will also acknowledge, “None of them compare to the intensity and competitiveness of Heps.”
The Heptagonal Championships — the annual gathering which decides who are the kings and queens of the Ivy League. Taking place this year at Harvard, the Heps have acquired a holy aura for the eight schools that consider them the peak of their seasons.
Consider, for example, that officials used to don tuxedos while officiating the meets. While this year’s Heps may not exactly be a black-tie affair, they will still offer the Ivy clubs an opportunity to grab a year’s worth of bragging rights.
And both Cornell’s men and women have realistic aspirations of finishing in the upper tier of the league.
“The kind of mantra I sing to myself every year is if you can be in the top five you can be in the top three, and if you can be in the top three you can win it,” Duesing said.
However, going into the weekend, it appears that Princeton and Harvard are the consensus favorites to win the championships on the men’s and women’s side, respectively.
But thanks to a more level playing field in the Ivies, the rest of the picture is much hazier with all seven other spots up in the air for any school to seize.
“It’s pretty wide open,” said Dan Meehan, a distance runner.
After finishing seventh last year at the meet, the men are looking to climb a few rungs up the Ivy ladder this weekend.
“If everybody brings their ‘A’ game, we’re going to surprise a lot of teams,” senior tri-captain and high jumper Pete Ippel said. “We can make a statement to the league. It’s going to be a big change for Cornell track.”
For the Red to make ripples at the Heps, it will undoubtedly need solid performances from distance runners Colin Moore and Geoff Van Fleet, throwers Jeremy Blanchet and Brett Coffing, long jumper Nick Senter, and hurdler Doug Heulitt.
On the women’s side, according to Duesing, Cornell should be in a dogfight with Yale for third-place, behind Brown which will likely be the favorite for second.
Although the Red finished two points behind Harvard and four points ahead of the Bears in a tri-meet last month, the dynamic of a meet featuring nine teams (Navy will also be participating) drastically changes that scenario.
“Teams that might be weak are going to have individuals that are likely going to be winners,” Duesing said, explaining how some schools will play the role of spoiler.
The Crimson, because of its startling depth at a few choice events, should have the inside track to the title. In the high jump for example, Harvard has a pair of Eastern Europeans (Dora Gyorffy of Hungary and Kart Silaats of Estonia) who are currently ranked first and third in the country, respectively, in the event. A one-two finish by the pair would give Harvard a valuable 18 points.
Gyorffy, who has been MVP of the Heps three years running, has also taken the triple jump title three consecutive times (although she never actually competes in it during the regular season).
But, as with Heps every year, Duesing expects this weekend to serve up a few twists and turns on its way to naming an Ivy champ.
“You can throw [the form sheets] out,” he said. “Every event is going to have a surprise.”
Archived article by Shiva Nagaraj