Since the early days of training back in August, the cross country squads had eyed Saturday’s Meet of Champions, hosted by Iona College, as the first true test of what they were made of. The results are now in from Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, and they point to two vastly improved Red teams, primed to compete with the region’s best and not far behind the top squads in the country.
Last week, men’s distance coach Robert Johnson had expressed hopes for a second place finish, and that’s what his runners gave him. Out of the 13 collegiate teams in the field, Cornell finished with 59 points, behind only third-ranked Iona’s 35 points. Junior Bruce Hyde led all collegiate runners with a time of 25:02.10 on the eight kilometer course, less than one second behind Kassahun Kabiso of the Westchester (N.Y.) Track Club.
“It was the first race where we could tell we were a good team,” Hyde said. “We thought we were a good team, but now we know we’re a good team.”
Senior captain Emory Mort came in second on the team and eighth overall. He was not too concerned about losing to Iona, saying, “They’re not in our league.” Despite his satisfaction with the weekend’s results, he does see room for improvement.
“Our strategy was to get out a little harder than in the past years, and that seemed to work because there was a group of about five of us that got in the race early and stayed there,” Mort said. “I think we’re still a little shaky in our four, five, six guy range. If we can tighten up our top seven we will have a very good season.”
The women’s team finished fourth out of 10 colleges on Saturday, thanks to 15 of the 19 Red harriers scoring personal best times on Van Cortlandt’s 6K course. Coach Lou Duesing praised a “fantastic race” by senior Kate Boyles, who finished second overall with a time of 21:02.3.
With 88 team points, Cornell was well behind first place Wake Forest, but in clear striking distance of No. 18 Marquette and Boston College, with 80 and 82 points, respectively. Duesing cited this proximity as a reason for some disappointment among his athletes.
“We had a chance to beat two pretty good teams,” he said. “The first 800-meters to maybe the mile, I think there were people that let the race get away from them.
“They worked very hard in the back hills, and they passed a lot of people. But the phrase that I used with the team was they were ‘in the wrong race.’ They needed to be a little bit more aggressive at the start so that they would have been racing the right people.”
Senior Amber McGown, the Red’s third place finisher and 20th overall, shared similar sentiments.
“A few of the girls, myself included, didn’t realize how fit we are,” she said. “Cross country’s one of those sports where you don’t want to put yourself out there too much on the first mile because you still have three more miles to go. But since the whole team is more fit than we were last year, we have to realize that and put that out there on the first mile, especially when you cross the finish line and realize you still have a lot left in you.”
The women next race on Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind. The men will compete in Indiana two weeks later at a Pre-National meet in Terre Haute.
Archived article by Dan Schiff
Sun Staff Writer