On the Friday before spring break, the Cornell track and field teams were already on their way to sunny California. The athletes were excited by the prospect of clear skies and warm weather, but they had more on their minds than palm trees and beaches. There were races to run, javelins to throw, and titles to defend. Both the men and women returned to California as defending champions of the Long Beach Classic and the Irvine Invitational.
The Red started its outdoor season on March 16 in Long Beach. The Classic was the larger of the two meets with 16 schools competing. Due to a long day of travel, some early season kinks, and sub-par record keeping by the host, both teams fell just short of repeating last year’s performance. The men finished third and the women finished second by two points out.
Although Cornell did not finish quite as well as it hoped at Long Beach, women’s coach Lou Duesing saw the individual performances as a positive start to the season.
“People competed very well for the first meet,” Duesing said. “There were some foul-ups with scoring, and we felt a little off at times. When the team found out that we had lost by two points, everyone was upset. They all thought they could have made a difference. That’s what I like to see.”
Junior Katy Jay finished second in the 400m dash, ahead of freshman Jessica Brown, and led the 4x400m relay to a first place finish. Senior Lena Mathews had to run an impressive negative split in the 1500m, but held on to win the event. A host of athletes finished in second place at Long Beach: junior Carlan Gray in the 3000m steeplechase, junior Natalie Whelan in the 800m run, freshman Shondra Brown in the 400m hurdles, and freshman Kari Haus in the 5000m run.
For the men, senior Max King won the steeplechase and qualified for the IC4As. Freshman Bruce Hyde won the 1500m run. Junior Scott Benowicz and senior Jeremy Blanchet placed third in the javelin and hammer throw, respectively.
The team had a week off between the Long Beach Classic and the Irvine Invitational and used every minute to its advantage.
“We had some good performances, but we always want to improve,” explained men’s coach Nathan Taylor. “We got in some good training in Irvine. The weather was great and everyone was really motivated. We practiced two times a day.”
The week spent training in the sun paid off as both the men’s and women’s teams found victory once again at Irvine. The Red proved that last year’s performance was no fluke by dominating the other five schools in almost every event. The women outscored second place host UC Irvine by almost 70 points, and the men held off Miami of Ohio for a convincing win.
Taylor was pleased with the trip, but he knows the season is just beginning.
“It was a pretty decent start,” Taylor concluded. “Some areas were good, but some areas still have some work to do. We want to improve on our third-place finish from last year. To do that and have a chance moving up passed Penn or Princeton, we’re going to have to work hard. And that’s just what we plan to do.”
Archived article by Adam Matthews