This past May, both the men’s and women’s track teams capped stellar seasons by winning the outdoor Heptagonal championships and by placing in seven events at ECACs, nine at IC4As, and one at the national championships. The dual Heps victories marked the first time that one school has won the men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor team championships in the same year. The women’s first-place finish also established a new record, as it became the first team to win four straight Heps championships.
“I don’t think anything can top it,” said men’s senior co-captain Rahim Wooley of the victories. “This is what our teams work for all year.”
Cornell’s men battled Princeton fiercely throughout the Heps meet and nearly had victory snatched away from them by a dubious penalty during the 4×400 relay. But the Red staved off the Tigers’ comeback attempt to win by a final score of 130-127 and capture its first outdoor title since 1985.
“Going in to the meet,” said Wooley, “we knew that we were going to have to come together to pull off a victory. And that’s just what we did.”
Ironically, the men took first in only one event, the 4×100 relay, but overall depth carried them the rest of the meet. Scoring in the short sprints for the men were Wooley and Quinton Carew ’03. The duo took second and fifth, respectively, in both the 100m and 200m races. Middle distance runners senior Mike Nanaszko and junior Brian Eremita placed fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 400, and senior Aldo Gonzalez came in sixth in the 800. In the final track events, Daryn Johnson ’03 and junior Emory Mort both qualified for the NCAA regional meet in the steeplechase with their fourth- and sixth-place finishes, respectively.
Field-event athletes contributed more crucial points to the team’s cause. Captain Scott Benowicz ’03 took third in the javelin, but his 224-3 throw was good enough to qualify him for the regional meet, and Derek Kingrey ’03 nearly qualified as well with his second place discuss toss of 171-7. In the triple jump, senior Tyler Kaune came in third, and senior co-captain Jason Hart took second in the long jump. Mike Harbeck ’03 added to the point tally with an impressive 15-1 pole vault good for second place. Clinching the victory was the men’s trio of shot-putters, who had done an outstanding job all season: Kingrey, Brett Coffing ’03, and junior Zach Beadle took the third, fourth, and fifth spots in the shot.
“It was amazing â€¦ hard to put into words,” said Gonzalez of his emotions after seeing the final team scores. “After not finishing in the top two at last year’s outdoor Heps, then pushing ourselves all year long and getting both the indoor and outdoor titles, there was a big sense of accomplishment.”
The women’s team shared those same senses of elation and accomplishment after winning their meet, though that outcome became certain much sooner than in the men’s competition.
“We knew all along that Yale would be our primary competition,” said women’s head coach Lou Duesing. “But, we piled up points early that we never expected to, and Yale faltered in a few events, so we got our victory assured pretty early.”
The women, relying on stellar individual performances and depth, captured nine first-place ribbons. Captain Katy Jay ’03 took home four of them: the open 200m and 400m, and as a member of the 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams. In the 200m, junior Jessica Brown and junior Kari Steed finished just behind Jay to take second and fourth, respectively. And, members of the 4×100 — junior Shonda Brown, senior Merili Mosley, sophomore Jan Seale, and Jay — set a new Heps record in the event, breaking Brown’s 1991 record by 0.28 seconds, coming in at 46.32. Natalie Whelan ’03 placed third in the 800, while Caitlin Ramsey ’03 set the second fastest 100m hurdles time in school history with a blazing 14.21.
Brown displayed her speed again by winning the 400 hurdles in 59.49, breaking her own school record in the event. Sophomore Jamie Greubel emerged as a champion by winning the heptathalon, and finally Carlan Gray ’03 and junior Alyssa Simon qualified for NCAA regionals with their respective second- and fifth-place finishes in the 3K steeplechase.
Records continued to fall on the field. Tri-captain Sarah Herskee ’03 set a new school record at 146-4 in the javelin, good for second place at the meet, and fellow thrower, junior Stacey Nadolny, repeated as the discuss throw champion.
“Winning puts your team on a page in history,” said Duesing of his team’s victory. “But this, this made me really impressed — awed by the quality of our effort.”
Following Heps, qualified members of both teams traveled to the ECACs, IC4As, and NCAA regional competitions. Overall, the outcome was fair: the women placed eighth out of 49 teams at ECACs, the men took 20th of 51 teams at IC4As, and a total of 13 athletes from both squads competed at the NCAA regional.
Benowicz went even further, taking his javelin to the national championships in California. Though he had thrown 232-06 at the Sea Ray Relays in April, Benowicz ended his national championship quest with a heave of 203-2.
In the upcoming year, the team will miss many of its graduated seniors like Benowicz and Jay, but both teams feel optimistic that next year’s performances will be equally impressive.
“It will be up to the upperclassmen and everyone else who will be on the team next year to step it up and get after it,” said Gonzalez. “If we train and compete as hard as we did this past year, I think we have a very good chance at repeat performances.”
Archived article by Everett Hullverson