February 27, 2004

Tracksters Seek Heps Championships

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The most hated word in any coach’s vocabulary is repeat. Entering this year’s indoor Heptagonal championships as defending title holders, the men’s and women’s track teams have heard that word frequently. But this is a different team and another year, but the Red still likes its chances.

The women have been impressive on and off the track this season.

“I really enjoy going to practice,” said headcoach Lou Duesing. “I enjoy going to meets. I enjoy working with this group and all the teams we’ve had here. They are very committed as students and as athletes. If I’m going into a championship situation, I want this group with me.”

Saturday, Duesing will have his usual squad with him, though the format of the meet will be different. During regular season meets, the team is represented in every event. At Heps, each coach must choose 33 athletes to represent the team. The goal is not to win events but to have multiple scorers within an event. Ideally, a team would like to score quality points — placing more than one person in the top three.

This will be very difficult for the Red several events.

“The middle distance and distance races in the league are very competitive,” explained Duesing. “Everyone has a cross country team. Add to that, Princeton was 9th in the nation in cross-country, and Columbia was 13th. Obviously those two schools are going to be extremely well represented. For us to have multiple scorers in those events will be extremely difficult.”

The teams posing the greatest challenge to the Red will Princeton, Yale, and Brown.

“Both Yale and Princeton have very good teams,” said Duesing. “They may not have the depth we have across the bench, but if the form charts have any validity then they’re going to have a few events where they score a lot of points.”

“The Brown team, when we faced them at the end of January is not running nearly as well as they are now,” he continued. “We’re keeping an eye out for them as well.”

The men enter the Heps ranked 23rd in the national power ranking, lurking just behind Princeton. Overcoming the Tigers and the rest of the league will be a challenge, but Coach Nathan Taylor has prepared his men well.

“I tell good jokes,” said Coach Nathan Taylor, explaining how he tries to alleviate pressure on the team. “I think the guys on the team are confident. They know that they’ve worked very hard to get to this point. They’re confident in their training program, so they should be at their best this weekend.”

In the 60-meter dash, the Red will look to senior Rahim Wooley. Wooley made the Ivy League Weekly Honor Roll last week after beating his own school record in the 200-meter, and he also qualified for the IC4As in the 60-meter dash.

In the 4×400-meter relay, there will be a showdown between the Red and Princeton. Each team has surpassed the Heps record already this season, and the difference between winning and losing could be tiny.

In the field, the long jump will be another strong area for the Red. Seniors Tyler Kaune and Jason Hart will try to copy their performances from last year, in which they secured 22 points for Cornell.

However, a Heps Championship will only be achieved through a complete team effort — a challenge given the nature of the meet.

“It’s a great meet,” said Taylor. “It should be very competitive. Princeton is clearly the favorite having won eight of the last ten times. Outside of Princeton, the remaining teams are probably not strong enough across the board to challenge for a championship. Each team has strong individuals and depending on how they perform they can have a huge impact on who the eventual team champion is.”

Archived article by James Rich