After a whole season on the up and up, the men’s cross country team stumbled Friday at the Heptagonal cross country championships. The team equaled last year’s performance, placing eighth in the nine- team field.
Dartmouth won the team championship for the third year in a row and the 13th time in 19 years.
Distance coach Robert Johnson refused to make excuses for the team’s finish.
“Our performance at Heps was extremely disappointing as a team,” he said.
While few of the Red’s conference foes expected the team to compete for a title, the runners came in with high expectations for themselves. At the very least, the team was looking for some respect, and if all the chips fell the right way, maybe a win.
“We had a wonderful opportunity to show everyone the significant improvement we’ve made as a distance program over the last 10 weeks, and we totally dropped the ball,” said Johnson.
Several bright spots did appear for the team in the form on individual performances though.
“The younger guys came through as they have all year,” noted Johnson.
Sophomore Bruce Hyde paced the team with an 11th-place finish, earning second team All-Ivy honors and continuing his emergence as one of Cornell’s top distance runners.
“Hyde ran smart and finished very strong,” said Johnson.
The coach also pointed to sophomore Emory Mort and junior Dan Hart for their strong performances at the meet.
“Dan Hart and Emory Mort came through yet again for us, as they have all year,” said Johnson.
Mort and Hart, the Red’s third and fourth runners, placed 40th and 46th, respectively.
But those solid performances weren’t enough to carry the team.
“Of the 12 guys who ran Friday, a lot came through for us,” said Johnson. “However, in cross country only five guys count, and our seniors didn’t really show up.”
Uneven performances rarely lead to success at such a high level, especially for a team, like Cornell’s, on the edge.
“When you’re competing in arguably the deepest cross country conference in the country, you pretty much need your entire top five to be firing on all cylinders,” he continued. “And that didn’t happen for us.”
The team will have other chances for redemption though, in two weeks at the NCAA regionals, where there will be a trip to the NCAA championships on the line.
“I’m confident that the guys will be able to redeem themselves,” said Johnson.
“I certainly expect there to be some highly motivated seniors out there running.”
Archived article by Matt James