The men’s and women’s cross country teams experienced mixed results, but faced similar disappointments, at the Heptagonal Cross Country Championships last Friday. The women placed second and the men finished eighth at the pivotal meet held at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.
For the women, this kind of performance was expected. The Red came into the meet ranked 23rd nationally, and only 21st ranked Yale posed a probable threat. This threat was validated as returning champion Yale, led by individual champion Kate O’Neill (17:33.1), placed three runners in the top 12 to earn 60 points and beat out the Red, who totaled 71 points.
Cornell had strong individual performances as well. The Red was led by freshman Kate Boyles (17:53.8), whose sixth place finish earned her first team All-Ivy honors. Senior Lena Matthews (18:01.5) finished eleventh overall to earn second team All-Ivy honors in another strong performance to pace the Red.
On the men’s side, senior Max King (24:55.3) finished a personal-best second overall. King finished nearly 10 seconds behind individual champion Tom McArdle of Dartmouth to lead the way for the Red. Freshman Jon Goldsmith and junior Barry Kahn claimed 25th and 26th place, respectively, to give the Red three top-30 finishes.
The men finished a disappointing eighth overall with 150 points, trailing first place Dartmouth who led the way with 76 total points.
Women’s coach Lou Duesing had mixed feelings following the meet. “We’re happy to have improved from last year,” he said, “but I don’t think any of them were happy with second place; they thought they could win it, and so did I.”
When asked if the performance was disappointing, he responded, “I’m not disappointed in how they ran or how they competed, I’m disappointed because we didn’t win. I know they feel the same way.”
Speaking of rookie Kate Boyles, who was the top freshman finisher in the field and led Cornell runners for the first time in five events, Duesing exclaimed, “She’s just gotten better with every race, and overall, there was outstanding freshman participation.”
Duesing had nothing but praise for team-leading senior Lena Matthews, who has been consistent all year for the Red.
“She’s really inexperienced as a cross country runner,” he said. She came in as a half-miler two years ago, and to go from nowhere in cross country to competing [at such a high level of competition] comes with nothing but hard work.”
Duesing wasn’t surprised at all to have had four runners in the top 16. “I thought we would have four, but not necessarily those four. Amber [McGown] went out harder than normal and faded back, but Jessica Parrott really stepped it up.”
Men’s coach Nathan Taylor summed up his feelings on his teams performance.
“It was certainly the worst performance all year,” he said. “The guys that ran poorly picked the wrong day to do it. I was just very disappointed with the effort.”
“Max King ran well, but he didn’t look as crisp as normal,” he continued. “The guy that beat him was an All-American, and it was a personal-best finish for him, but it wasn’t his best race.”
Taylor added, “We just didn’t get it from the seniors, and we didn’t get it from the guys we expect it from.”
Looking to the future, both teams will travel to Boston, Mass. to compete in the NCAA regional qualifying meet. While the women’s team expects to have a strong showing, Taylor was unsure about the fate of the men’s team.
“At this point,” he said, “Who knows? It depends which athletes decide to show up.”
Archived article by Sun Staff