Historically, the Sea Ray Relays held at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville is the toughest and largest meet on the Cornell track schedule. Featured at the meet are over 1,500 athletes representing numerous track programs from Big 10 and SEC track powerhouses. There will also be several unaffiliated and sponsored runners, throwers, and jumpers. The men’s and women’s track teams expect the same level of competition going into this year’s event, but both teams also know that they have two of the best squads in Cornell history and hope to make their mark on the Vols’ Tom Black track.
“We’re expecting to see the toughest competition we’ve seen all year,” said men’s coach Nathan Taylor. “Every event will be very, very competitive.”
Last year, Tennessee’s men captured five victories in the meet and had three automatic NCAA qualifying times including Justin Gatlin’s 100m and 200m times, which were some of the fastest in the world. The women also faced tough competition against a host of NCAA qualifiers from around the country.
But, the Red held its own. The women’s distance medley relay won the championship, and sophomores Kari Steed and Jessica Brown, seniors Natalie Whelan, Katy Jay, and Sarah Herskee all scored points for the team. Senior Scott Benowicz and junior Chris Friedrich led the way for the men in the javelin, and seniors Rahim Wooley and Quinton Carew, along with junior Mike Nanaszko, all had solid finishes.
Heading into this weekend’s events, both teams are optimistic that they can improve on those performances.
“We have some people who are very close to qualifying for the NCAA regionals, and all of our relays will have great race opportunities and can do very well,” said women’s coach Lou Duesing.
Similarly, Taylor said of his men, “We have some pretty good guys on the team this year, and it’ll be exciting to see if they can rise to the occasion.”
Already this year, both the men and women have risen to the occasion in every meet they have entered. Both teams captured indoor Heps titles and, most recently, the U.C. Irvine Invitation and Long Beach Relay championships. Athletes for both teams hope to continue their success this weekend, but know that the field is strong in every event and victory is not the only measure of accomplishment.
“Normally, we run well in this meet,” concluded coach Duesing, “but even if we don’t win, our athletes learn a lot and get a lot from the experience, which will help for the rest of the year.”
Archived article by Everett Hullverson