In the last major weekend of major racing before the Heptagonal championships, the cross country teams hit the road and returned with mixed results. On Saturday, the men”s varsity squad finished 25th out of 35 schools at the Pre-National Meet in Terre Haute, Ind., while the junior varsity came in 20th out of 38 at the Penn State National Meet. Also at Penn State, the women landed in fifth out of 41 teams.
With three weeks between meets, the men experienced some tough training and gained a bit of national recognition, receiving three votes on the Coaches Association poll. But when they finally stepped onto Indiana State”s eight-kilometer course, high hopes were quickly dispelled.
‘Quite honestly, it was an embarrassing performance,’ said distance coach Robert Johnson. ‘The guys are really fit, and they didn”t show that on Saturday. They were all just flat. Every single man pretty much struggled.’
Junior Bruce Hyde led the team with a 97th place finish in a time of 25:17.8 on a relatively flat and fast course. Comparatively, he ran the hilly terrain of Van Cortlandt Park at Iona in 25:02.1 three weeks ago.
‘I really think Bruce is one of the more talented kids in collegiate running,’ Johnson said. ‘He was in the lead at the mile and was doing great. He said that all of a sudden he just lost it.’
Johnson believes the three weeks off provided the Red with beneficial, demanding training, but he accepts that he may have pushed his athletes too hard in the week before the race.
‘The fact that all the guys didn”t really run well makes me think that, as a coach, I should take responsibility for this one,’ he said. ‘On Wednesday, the guys were pretty excited to be back together after fall break and we got a little bit carried away on the track. We”ll just get rested up over the next two weeks and I think we”ll be fine.’
In State College, Pa., the men”s junior varsity was led by a 38th place finish by sophomore Ricky Lader. For the women, senior Kate Boyles led the way on Penn State”s 6K course, coming in 12th out of 346 finishers in 21 minutes, nine seconds.
Coach Lou Duesing recognized how the density of the race may have affected some of his runners.
‘It was very busy, and it was on a course that could not easily accommodate those numbers,’ he said. ‘That presented a problem for some people. Those who ran at Notre Dame [in the Notre Dame Invitational two weeks before], having had that experience, were a lot more relaxed.’
Cornell eked by two nationally-ranked teams in Penn State and William & Mary, and was in striking distance of second place West Virginia and third place Boston College.
‘I don”t think there”s any question that we could beat B.C.,’ Duesing said. ‘But we”ve run against them twice and we haven”t yet. West Virginia is a very good team up front, but I think we could have easily found 17 points to beat them in this race.’ The Red next races on Friday, as it hosts the Reif Memorial on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course. With the Heptagonal championships a week later, the varsity runners typically do not compete in the Reif Memorial.
Archived article by Dan Schiff
Sun Staff Writer