October 7, 2004

Among Top Harriers, Hyde, Boyles Thrive

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For a cross country coach, there’s comfort in knowing exactly who is going to finish in your number one spot from one race to the next. Both the women’s and men’s teams are blessed this year with top runners at the top of their game: senior Kate Boyles and junior Bruce Hyde.

Boyles came to Cornell out of The International Academy in Rochester Hills, Mich., already a national track talent. As a high school senior, she finished 10th in the Foot Locker National Cross Country Championships and set a state record in the 3200 meters. Her career in Ithaca did not continue on the same upward trajectory right away, however.

“I’ve had kind of an up and down career,” she said. “I came out of high school very successful and it took me a while to adjust to the rigors of college running.”

Boyles’s junior year could well have been her breakout point, but she came down with mononucleosis and missed the first month and a half of the cross country season. Despite this setback, coach Lou Duesing watched as she returned to form and eventually took first in the ECAC Championships, the first Cornellian to ever do so.

“Confidence is built on competence,” Duesing said. “Workouts and races helped her regain confidence to a point where she saw herself as someone who belonged with the top runners. Based on having that confidence she would put herself into those situations, whereas if you lack it, you’re reluctant to do so.”

So far this season Boyles has looked to fulfill the promise she had as a recruit, and then some. She most recently took eighth place at the prestigious Notre Dame Invitational. “Finishing eighth in that level of a field, beating All-Americans, I think she’s certainly demonstrated to everyone, and hopefully to herself, that she is a force, and I think a national force,” said Duesing.

“This season just feels different to me than any other season I’ve had at Cornell,” Boyles said. “I just feel like I’m finally in the place I need to be in order to be successful.”

For the men, Hyde has finally returned to Cornell after a year and a half break from school. He spent some time in Flagstaff, Ariz., training with some of the NCAA’s top runners at Northern Arizona University, before returning home to Waterbury, V.T. He came back to Ithaca last winter and has remained, refreshed by his time away from the classroom. “I didn’t really have my priorities in the right place my first year and a half at Cornell,” he said. “Just working fulltime and training at a high level really put everything in perspective.” While away from collegiate competition, Hyde ran the equivalent of 8:40 in the two-mile, which would have been a school record, and took fourth place in the 1500 meters at a nationally-televised USA Track & Field meet.

Distance coach Robert Johnson doesn’t mind having him back, to say the least. “Bruce has all the tools you would want in a runner,” he said. “He’s extremely talented, and he works really hard and hasn’t rested on his laurels. I’d be more surprised if he wasn’t named All-American than if he was.”

With the success Hyde has enjoyed in this year’s first two meets, he is looking forward to the rest of his Cornell career and beyond.

“My time off kind of opened up my eyes to all that’s out there for post-collegiate running,” he said. “I’ve run the equivalent of four minutes in the mile. Once you get around there, doors start opening for you. I plan on running a lot faster while I’m here, and if I do that, I can definitely look at running to make a living for a little while.”

Despite the path to success he has paved, Hyde still takes time to enjoy the simple pleasures of his sport.

“To me running is the one constant in my life,” he said. “It’s always been the thing that I have that I’ve been good at. No matter what happens I can go out there and run and forget about it for a while.”

Archived article by Dan Schiff
Sun Staff Writer