Expectations were high on the men’s and women’s track teams as they headed to the Sea Ray Relays at the University of Tennessee this past weekend, but no one could have predicted that the teams would return to Ithaca with several new additions to the Red record books.
The relays, held by the Vols at the Tom Black Track in Knoxville, is one of the largest and most prestigious track meets in the country. Every year, over 1,500 student-athletes from schools around the country compete alongside sponsored athletes and former Olympians. This year, the Red took its 11-hour bus ride to Knoxville hoping to gain, if nothing else, experience, but the teams came home with utter excitement and the knowledge that they are two of the top squads in the country.
“The bus ride is a long trip, and it can be wearing on some people,” said women’s head coach Lou Duesing, “but they didn’t let it get in their way this year.”
Outstanding performances were plentiful for both teams, as several relays and individuals had personal bests and added their scores to the Cornell record books.
The women’s team placed in the top 10 of nearly every relay event it entered. Highlighting the relay performances were the 4×800 and sprint medley. The 4×800 team of juniors Natalie Gingrich and Ann Hansgate, sophomore Alison Koplar, and freshmen Ruth Morgan fought its way to a second-place finish and was edged out only by national powerhouse Michigan.
The sprint medley team of sophomores Jessica Brown and Shonda Brown and Kari Steed, and senior co-captain Katy Jay nearly equaled their teammates on the 4×800, coming in fifth overall. In doing so, the group set the new school record at 3:56.22.
Adding to the Red’s list of top finishes were also the 4×400 and distance medley relays, which both placed eighth in their events. The familiar legs of Jessica Brown, Shonda Brown, Jay, and junior Jill Crispell carried the 4×400 across the finish line in 3:41.43, setting a new school record as they crossed. Youth helped propel the DMR to the finish line. The team, sophomores Sarah Coseo and Lauren Graham, combined with freshmen Jamie Gruebel and Mandy Knuckles for a great finish.
“They really just keep getting faster and faster,” said Duesing proudly of his runners. “It’s always exciting to watch them.”
The men were similarly successful, though most of the team’s top finishes came in individual events.
“We had lousy weather on Friday, which made it difficult to get psyched up,” said men’s head coach Nathan Taylor, “but we came out and still had some really good performances.”
Leading the men were seniors Scott Benowicz and Derek Kingrey. Benowicz’s 232-06 toss in the javelin earned him third place in the meet, but more importantly, the top spot in the Cornell record books and a ranking among the top five throwers in the country right now. Kingrey gave Cornell its only outright championship, winning the discus with a huge 165-02 throw.
Fellow senior Geoff Van Fleet also gave his teammates a boost with his performance in the 1500m run. Van Fleet faced tough competition in the race, but still delivered a solid 11th-place finish, which placed him sixth all-time on for the Red.
In the hammer throw, junior Giles Longley-Cook gave a performance representative of his efforts all year. He gave a huge heave in the event, good for eighth place.
Additionally, two sophomores, Emory Mort and Ryan Schmidt, contributed to the team effort with their performances in the 3000m steeplechase and high jump, respectively. Mort placed 11th in his event and Schmidt, seventh in his.
Finally, the 4×100 relay team of seniors Quinton Carew, Rahim Wooley, junior Jason Hart, and sophomore Kenan Goggins blazed around the track to finish the race in sixth place and etch their names in the fifth spot on the Barton Hall record books.
Taylor was satisfied with his men’s performances, but knows that maintaining their current level of intensity will be difficult but crucial for success during the rest of the season.
“Track is a tough sport because you have to come back again and again to compete for what’s going on five months right now, and some guys are still trying to regain that fire from indoor Heps, which we have to have for outdoor Heps in three weeks.”
Archived article by Everett Hullverson