The women’s track team set three school records and scored more points than it ever has before, this past weekend at the ECAC track championships. The women finished fifth out of 86 top teams from the east coast, while the men’s 4x400m relay team set a new Ivy League record.
After winning Heps only one week ago and then mustering the energy to give such an outstanding performance at ECAC’s, women’s head coach Lou Duesing expressed how proud he was of his team, saying, “By the time the dust settled on Sunday, I was absolutely overwhelmed.”
“We did not enter the meet to score points,” Duesing continued, “but, rather, to let our athletes compete in whatever events they wanted to, and from top to bottom they all did extremely well. Each of the fifteen people we brought contributed to the scoring.”
The women’s team, currently ranked 21st out of all Division I teams in the country, finished fifth by scoring 34 points — the most ever by the team in an ECAC competition. The final standings were Seton Hall (77 points), Northeastern (50), Syracuse (47), and Pittsburg (41). With the finish, the lady Red also upended perennial ECAC powerhouses Georgetown, Villanova, Penn State, and George Mason.
Leading the way for the women was senior Natalie Whelan, who took home the team’s first ECAC gold medal since the 2000 season by winning the 1000m run in 2:50.42. Her time was the second fastest in Cornell history.
Also representing Cornell’s senior class was Katy Jay, who broke her own school record in the 400m, placing sixth overall in 55.27.
Sophomore twin sisters Jessica and Shonda Brown scored for the team in the 500m. Jessica set a new indoor school record in the event, taking fifth place in 1:13.67, and Shonda set a new personal record, coming in just moments later to take eighth place in 1:14.10.
Symbolic of the team effort that has carried the women all season were the relays. Of the 86-team field, Cornell was the only one to score in all three relay events.
The 4×400 team of sophomore Kari Steed, J. Brown, S. Brown, and Jay bested the school indoor record en route to earning second place in 3:41.59.
Equally impressive was the 4x800m team of sophomores Carrie Richards and Alison Koplar, junior Ann Hansgate, and Whelan. The team looked strong throughout the race and finished in 9:01.57, good for third place in the meet and sixth all-time on Cornell’s list.
All-East recognition also went to the distance medley relay team composed of freshmen Mandy Knuckles, Jamie Gruebel and Ruth Morgan, and sophomore Sarah Coseo. The young group took seventh in the event, crossing the line in 11:45.67.
Several members of the men’s team, particularly those on the 4x400m relay, also concluded their indoor seasons on high notes.
The 4×4 was the highlight of the meet for the Red. Members of the team, junior Mike Nanaszko, senior co-captain Mike Kiselcznyk, and sophomores Brian Eremita and Kenan Goggins broke not only Cornell’s all-time record, but set a new Ivy League record as well. In the preliminary round of the 4×400, the foursome just trailed Penn State’s NCAA qualifying team for the entire race, coming in second at 3:11.01.
As Goggins came within the final thirty meters of the finish line, an expectant Kiselycznyk knew that the team would break the record.
“When he came down that final stretch, I knew we were going to be under 3:13.00, which is what we’d hoped for,” he said.
Then, when the official time came up on the board, the entire men’s team went ecstatic, knowing that they had just set a new Ivy record.
“When the time came up, we were just really excited,” said Kiselycznyk.
Also giving a solid effort for the Red were senior pole vaulter Mike Harbeck and junior long jumper and co-captain Jason Hart.
Harbeck did an outstanding job, jumping 15-11 and taking seventh place in a tough field, while Hart finished 20th in the long jump with a distance of 21-3.
Several athletes also narrowly missed scoring in the finals of their events.
Junior co-captain Rahim Wooley competed in both the 55m and 200m dashes, coming out of the preliminaries of the 200 in 11th place with a time of 21.91.
Additional competitors were sophomore Barry Kahn in the mile (4:17.38), sophomore Mike Allen in the 800m run (1:54.47), and senior Dan Dombroski in the 5000m (15:08.24).
Despite his finish, Hart was somewhat disappointed in the team’s overall performance, saying, “It was really hard to come back from Heps so soon, and I think that I and the entire team really didn’t have the motivation and fire we normally do.”
ECAC’s and IC4A’s were the last indoor events for both teams, but they will resume competition for the outdoor season on March 15th when they travel to Irvine, California for the Irvine Invitational.
Archived article by Everett Hullverson