Ignited by the memory of championship glory and fueled by power and depth, the men’s and women’s track teams are fired up and eager to burn their competition as they head into the spring season.
The Cornell tracksters have already proved their prowess by dominating competitors on the indoor circuit this year. Team effort and outstanding individual performances enabled both teams to win nearly all of their regular season meets and capture both the men’s and women’s Heptagonal championships in stunning finishes to their seasons.
Harnessing the momentum gained through the winter’s success and channeling it towards increasing team continuity and enthusiasm will be the key to the Red’s continued success this spring.
“Our performances at Heps have given us confidence in each other and the ability to perform as a team,” said senior Sarah Herskee on the women’s team outlook going into the outdoor season.
Commenting for the men’s team, junior Jason Hart said, “This is the best the team has ever looked, and we’re ready to get after it.”
Optimism and confidence alone do not yield championships, however; hard work and game-day performances ultimately will determine the outcome. But coaches and athletes on both teams know well the pain of tough practices and the feelings of elation or disappointment that accompany the posting of final scores.
Last year, both teams put forth solid efforts all season, but the results varied in the end.
Cornell’s women were tops in the Ivy League, capturing the Heps title by a whopping 78-point margin over second-place Brown. In the meet, then-junior Katy Jay swept the 100-meter and 200-meter races along with running anchor on the winning 4×100-meter and 4×400-meter relay teams. She was named the meet’s outstanding performer.
A large number of women return this year from that championship team, including several Heps scorers. Sophomores Kari Steed, Jessica Brown, Shonda Brown, and Carrie Richards; juniors Ann Hansgate, Kalifa Pilgrim, and Ib Stanley-Ikhilioju; and seniors Carlan Gray and Herskee are all back again this year and looking to do whatever they can to help the team finish on top again this May.
The men finished slightly lower than their female counterparts, taking fourth in the meet, but the team returns several point scorers and many athletes who have improved dramatically throughout the past year.
Leading the way for the Red last year were senior Rahim Wooley — who placed in the 100 and 200 races — and sophomore Zach Beadle — who took second in the shot put. Wooley and Beadle will be contenders for the top spots in these events at Heps, but this year some of their best competition will be from members of their own team.
The depth and strength of the men’s team became apparent when it ousted Princeton from the top spot at indoor Heps earlier this month. Newcomers gave the Red points across the board, and in some events, teammates placed 1-2-3.
Those who scored big points this winter were seniors Quinton Carew, Brett Coffing, Dan Dombroski, Mike Harbeck, Barry Kahn, Derek Kingrey, Mike Kiselycznyk, and Geoff Van Fleet; juniors Ethan Albrecht-Carrie, Jason Hart, Tyler Kaune, Giles Longley-Cook, Mike Nanaszko, and Travis Offner; and sophomores Brian Eremita, Kenan Goggins, Ryan Schmidt, and Oliver Tassinari. These men anchored the best team in the Ivy League this winter and will look to continue to hold that distinction in the spring.
Sheer athleticism is undoubtedly the biggest advantage both teams have over their Ivy foes, but the addition of several new events during the outdoor season will also help both teams’ chances of success.
New on the outdoor event schedule are the 100 and 10,000-meter races, 110-meter and 400-meter hurdles, 3,000-meter steeplechase, discus, and the javelin. Both the men and women have athletes who have had success in these events, and the points they can add will drastically improve the odds of the women’s team in retaining its title, and the men’s team improving upon last year’s finish.
“We’re a better outdoor team because the addition of many throwing events plays to our strength,” said women’s head coach Lou Duesing.
Men’s head coach Nathan Taylor said: “Guys on the team recognize that we’re better outdoors because we add the javelin, discus, and 400-meter hurdles.”
Extra points for both teams will likely come from a few athletes who bolster two already strong squads.
The men’s team will get a boost from Kiselycznyk in the 400 hurdles, Dombroski in the 10,000, and senior Scott Benowicz in the javelin.
For the women, Brown in the 400 hurdles, Gray in the 3000 steeplechase, Herskee in the hammer and javelin, and sophomore Becky Tucker in the hammer should also contribute valuable team points.
Each team will need all of those additional points, as the outdoor season’s competition will be much stronger than that of the indoor season. National meets such as the Sea Ray and Penn State relays feature teams from major Division I programs across the country.
Undeterred by their foes, however, coaches for both teams argue that their teams thrive in such intense situations.
“My expectations are still the same,” said Duesing, “I can’t expect my athletes to give any more than the best they can.”
Acknowledging that his athletes may not win their events or the meet, but still improve, Taylor added, “Competing against these big schools helps us regardless of whether we win or lose because track is such a quantitatively oriented sport.”
The nation’s best track and field teams will push Cornell to the limits of their strength and speed, but the experience will be beneficial at the end of the season when the teams will vie for Heps championships.
Archived article by Everett Hullverson