September 24, 2004

Harriers Race at Iona

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The first meet may have been two weeks ago, but for the men’s and women’s cross country teams, the real competition starts tomorrow at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. The Red harriers will get their first real test of this young season against some of the country’s best runners in Iona’s 10th annual Meet of Champions. Women’s head coach Lou Duesing is anticipating good things.

“I think the kids are very excited,” he said. “I’m very excited. I really like the quality of work they’ve been doing in practice. The dual meet at Army just didn’t give us any real read on where we are, but this will.”

The competition will indeed be stiff, featuring nationally-ranked programs such as Marquette and Wake Forest, as well as regional forces Iona, Boston College and Boston University. The women will look to improve on last year’s seventh place finish in the meet, which they ran sans top runner Kate Boyles. Boyles, a senior, will be anchoring a very deep Red team in tomorrow’s six kilometer race.

“Kate is doing a great job, running with a lot of confidence,” said Duesing. “Close on her heels is junior Emily McCabe, but after that there’s a whole group of people running the same kinds of times and working very well together. Right now, picking a top nine is extremely difficult, but to me that’s good news.”

The men experienced similar results at Iona in 2003, finishing sixth overall, without the benefit of their top runner, junior Bruce Hyde. Distance coach Robert Johnson recognizes and welcomes the challenge that tomorrow’s competition will provide his number one guy.

“Bruce is in fantastic shape, and this meet should be a tough challenge for him,” Johnson said. “[Third-ranked] Iona’s got several All-Americans running, which is exactly what he needs.”

Johnson has a clearer idea than Duesing of how his varsity squad will shape up. Senior captain Emory Mort currently occupies the second spot, with sophomore Aaron Arlinghaus right behind. Johnson expects senior Oliver Tassinari and sophomore Brad Baird to battle for the fourth and fifth positions.

Although Cornell is slotted sixth in the U.S. Cross Country Coaches Association Northeast Region poll, Johnson would rather wait until after his team has completed the eight kilometer course at Van Cortlandt to celebrate.

“We’re not ready to compete with Iona, but the field’s pretty much wide open after that,” he said. “I’d like to think we could contend for second place, which would be nice.”

Whatever the outcome, tomorrow’s meet will be an opportunity for the Red to get friendly with the Van Cortlandt course, which they will traverse in three more meets this year.

“The course at Van Cortlandt is unique,” Duesing said. “You run almost a mile and a half before you even see a hill. So you get used to being in a rhythm, but then you hit the hills and it throws you out of it. What happens on those hills determines the outcome of the race. People either love or hate the course, but with the amount of races we have there, it’s better to learn to love it.”

Archived article by Dan Schiff
Sun Staff Writer