April 18, 2003

Tracksters Look to Continue Strong Performances

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Cornell’s track teams will part ways this weekend as the women head to Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. to compete in the Leopard Invitational while the men head to the home of the Penn State Nittany Lions in University Park to face several teams in the Penn State Invitational.

Coming into this weekend, the Red is riding a wave of success after performing exceptionally well in meets across the country. In California over spring break, both teams captured first place overall in the Irvine Invitational and the Long Beach Classic. Last weekend, the teams also competed in one of the toughest meets in the country — the Sea Ray Relays — at the University of Tennessee and came home with several top finishes and new school records.

“Some good weather finally followed us to Tennessee,” said senior Katy Jay, who has been one of her team’s top performers this year. “We did really well at the meet, and the team still has some momentum going from that.”

The unusually cold and snowy winter has diminished both teams’ opportunities to practice outside this spring, but nonetheless, each team feels confident that it is well prepared to run, jump, and throw their best this weekend.

At Lafayette, a Division II school, the women do not expect to face the same high-caliber teams they saw at the Sea Ray Relays, but Ivy League rival Princeton will also compete in the meet and give the Red a run for its money. The women have an advantage over the Tigers, however, as they beat Princeton at Indoor Heps this past winter and have confidence that they can repeat the performance.

“The competition won’t be too great because we’ll be facing mostly Division II schools, except for Princeton,” said Jay, “but going in, we have a good shot to win the meet because we’re just a really good team this year.”

The men’s challenge at Penn State could be considerably more difficult. The Red’s primary competition at the meet will come from the home team, which has fielded 226 track All-Americans over the past 35 years. Most recently, senior sprinter Brian Derby and junior triple jumper Chavous Nichols earned All-American honors at this winter’s NCAA indoor track championships.

But the men are fully loaded with their own nationally-recognized athletes and set to take on any challenge. Currently, senior Scott Benowicz holds the sixth-best mark in the country in the javelin, and senior Derek Kingrey beat out all of his competition to claim first place in the discus at the Sea Ray Relays. Additionally, junior Travis Offner has the best triple-jump in the Ivy League this season, and senior Geoff Van Fleet and sophomore Oliver Tassinari have the first and second best 1500m times in the Ivies so far this year.

“Penn State has a good team,” said Benowicz, “but we should stack up really well against them and our other competition because we’re deeper.”

The outlook for both teams going into this weekends’ meets is positive, but both also know that their true tests will come in the upcoming weeks when the Red will face nationally-ranked teams at the Penn Relays and then at Heps.

Archived article by Everett Hullverson