The women’s and men’s track teams competed in their largest and best known meet last weekend at the Penn Relays. The event brings together over 22,000 high school, college, and professional athletes for three days worth of races, and field events on Penn’s Franklin Field.
The Penn Relays is not for the faint-hearted, as the athletes must perform in front of the thousands on hand against the best track teams in the country.
“The Penn Relays is a big pressure cooker,” men’s coach Nathan Taylor said.
Women’s coach Lou Duesing agreed: “It can be overwhelming and scary if you let it be. Franklin Field can be a very intimidating place.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams overcame the talented field and the intimidating atmosphere to find themselves at the top of several categories.
The women’s Heptagonal 4×400 was the highlight of the Penn Relays for the Red. Freshman Jessica Brown, sophomore Hannah Garrity, senior Anne Marie McMillan, and junior Katy Jay combined for a time of 3:45.38, over three seconds ahead of next best Brown. The finish gave Cornell its first ever Championship of America (the division of the Penn Relays in which the race took place).
“For the first time in our history, we’re able to plant one of those plaques on Bradley Track Center,” Duesing said.
The distance medley of freshmen Amber McGown and Shonda Brown, sophomore Anne Hansgate, and senior Lena Mathews advanced to the Championship of America also. The foursome placed ninth behind first-place North Carolina, Stanford, Georgetown, and other perennial national championship contenders.
The 4×100, 4×200, and 4×400 advanced to the ECAC finals finishing eighth, fifth, and fifth, respectively. The 4×800 squad also raced in the Championship of America placing 12th.
“For us to qualify for that final in the 4×100, 4×200, and 4×400 speaks volumes for how good a sprint group this is.”
The Cornell women also had a strong showing in the field events. Brown finished sixth in the high jump, despite a nagging calf injury. Senior Sarah Herskee finished 18th in the shot put and 28th in the hammer throw. Freshman Stacey Nadolny was 14th in the discus.
The men’s squad saw many outstanding individual performances from its team members. Senior Max King took third place in the 3000m steeplechase.
“Max did well, he ran between the 10th and 12th fastest time this year. It’s the best time he ran this year so he’s really in elite company,” Taylor said.
The Red pole vaulters didn’t disappoint either as senior Scott Lundy won the Eastern pole vault championship clearing 5.11m for a new school record. Sophomore Travis Offner placed fourth overall in the pole vault.
Junior Scott Benowitz had a seventh place overall finish in the javelin, throwing for 63.42m.
The Cornell men’s 4×400 team of sophomore Mike Nanaszko and freshmen Brian Eremita, Justin Angle and Keenan Goggins provided one of the more exciting moments of the meet in the Heps 4×400. Trailing the Penn team by 15m going into the final 100m, Goggins pulled even with the Quakers’ Brian Abram, only to lose by two-hundreths of a second.
“Penn Relays is a good jumping off point for the championship season,” Taylor said, mentioning that although he was pleased with his team’s performance, there is still room for improvement.
Meanwhile, on Sunday both teams came back to Ithaca to host the Big Red Invitational. The event, comprised of upstate rivals, gives those athletes who didn’t travel to Penn a chance to compete inter-collegiately for one of the 36 spots to go to the Heptagonal championships in two weeks. Both teams dominated the competition as they fine-tuned their performances.
For the women, Nadolny and Herskee qualified for ECAC championships in the discus and hammer, respectively. Rookie Becky Tucker broke the freshman record in the hammer, beating Karen Chastain’s ’01 record by two feet.
The men’s team also had its share of qualifiers for ECACs as the 4×800 relay team, sophomore hammer thrower Giles Longley-Cook, and junior discus throwers Derek Kingrey and Brett Coffing all wrote their tickets to the meet.
Archived article by Amanda Angel