It’s a simple switch really. The men’s and women’s track & field teams have left the tight-knit quarters of Barton Hall, walked down the road and unloaded their gear at the Robert J. Kane Track.
But the transition from the indoor season to the outdoor season has much more significant ramifications than just a change of venue.
Because the outdoor season also means the addition of a few events that favor the Red, its commencement translates into loftier expectations for both the men and women.
“We’re an outdoor team,” explained senior captain Karen Chastain.
That, of course, is not to belittle Cornell’s performance during the indoor campaign. The women finished fourth at the Heptagonal Championships last month, and then just last week they tied for 12th out of about 80 teams at the ECACs. Perhaps more impressive were the men, who most likely had their best track season since the last Republican administration. They shot up to fifth at Heps after finishing dead-last two years ago, and then claimed 10th at the IC4As.
“I really like the way we ended the indoor season,” Chastain said.
But on East Hill, it would appear that the indoor season is nothing more than appetizer before the main course — outdoors.
A few of the middle-distance events are wiped off the books for the outdoor season while more sprints, hurdles, and throws are added.
“We’ve got a very good shot at scoring high in every field event,” men’s head coach Nathan Taylor explained how the change affects his squad. “We have a really well-balanced team.”
The men will likely be spearheaded by the mile crew which should feature senior Colin Moore, junior Geoff Van Fleet, and classmate Matt Gallagher, who is returning from injury.
And if indoors is any indication, the Red should also challenge in the pole vault with junior Scott Lundy and freshman Travis Offner.
Others to look for are Brett Coffing and Jeremy Blanchett in the throws; Pete Ippel, Nick Senter, and Tyler Kaune in the jumps; Doug Heullitt in the hurdles; and Max King and Chris Ondrak in the distance events.
“We want to continue to be recognized as one of the top teams in the east and one of the top 25 teams in the country,” Taylor commented.
As for the women, points should be found across the board once the outdoor season kicks off. Their strengths lie in the field and distance events.
Chastain, who will compete in the throws, and fellow seniors Meredith Freimer and Kim Chatman, both distance runners, will be the Red’s leaders both on and off the track.
In the sprints, Katy Jay dominated much of the indoor competition, figuring in both the 100 and the 200. She should be expected to post similar performances this spring.
In the pole vault, senior Jamie Reed set a school record at Heps, but the opportunity to raise the bar a little higher is just around the corner.
Lena Mathews, Jessica Parrott, Carlan Gray, and Halle Watson will be stalwarts in the distance events while Danielle Brown and Sarah Spain will have to shoulder much of the scoring in the jumps.
For their first competition, Cornell is lucky enough to make the cross-country trip next Saturday to California for the Long Beach Classic.
But wherever the team competes in the foreseeable future, it’s an advantage because it means that the Red finally gets to leave the cramped quarters of Barton.
And so Chastain explained the real reason that team can’t wait for the outdoor season to start: “We like being outside.”