Collegiate cross country is all about competing with the toughest runners, seeing how your team stacks up against the best, and above all, winning the race.
This weekend the men’s and women’s cross country teams travel back to Van Cortland Park in New York City to compete in the NCAA Northeast Regional. A trip to the NCAA championships in Terre Haute, Ind. is on the line.
“The later you get in the season, the more important the race,” said women’s head coach Lou Duesing.
Bigger, tougher races continually raise the stakes in November. Of more than 300 Division I cross country programs, only 31 will make it to the national championships. But that’s what it’s all about, noted Duesing.
“All of these kids aspire to run and be competitive at this level,” he said.
Coming off a solid third-place finish at the Heptagonal championships, the women’s team looks to return to nationals for the second year in a row.
“People want to go in and run better than they did two weeks ago,” said Duesing.
Improvement will be key to the team’s late-season aspirations. If the runners keep getting better they have a realistic shot at qualifying. The team just wants to go in and run its best race.
“We can’t control what the other teams are going to do,” Duesing said.
The runners can only put forth their best and trust it will be enough.
There’s no game plan, no set formula for the team’s race. This will be the third meet the Red has competed in at Van Cortland Park this year, so each of the runners has her own idea of how she wants to attack it, the coach explained.
“People need to continue to be aggressive in putting themselves in a good position early in the race,” said Duesing. He continued, “They need to trust themselves.”
Forty teams will compete in the women’s race, with the top two qualifying automatically.
Eighteen teams — two from each region — receive automatic bids to the national championships, with the remaining 13 slots handed out on an at-large basis.
Cornell is ranked fifth in the Northeast region behind Columbia, Providence, Boston College, and Yale. The Red finished seven points behind the Bulldogs at Heps.
If the team can beat one or two of those teams it would make a serious case for a place on the starting line in Terre Haute.
Duesing thinks his ladies are up to the challenge.
“It’s been a very good team,” the coach said. “They’re itchin’ to get go, and that’s what you want.”
Archived article by Matt James