The terrain is not the only bumpy thing in a cross country season. For a team that will face injuries, sickness and disappointment during the fall semester, it’s good to have an experienced leader who knows the ropes and leads by example. Senior captains Sarah Coseo and Emory Mort are succeeding not just as runners this year, but also as role models to their teammates and extensions of their coaches.
For Coseo, cross country was not a priority until coming to Cornell from Clarence, N.Y., where she played high school soccer in the fall and ran track in the spring. She has continued to thrive on the track in college, solidifying her status as one of the Ivy League’s premier milers. But she has also been a consistent presence on the cross country varsity squad the last three years. Last weekend, Coseo claimed 50th place out of 280 collegiate finishers at the Penn State National Meet, fourth on the Red.
Women’s coach Lou Duesing wasted no time praising his captain.
“She has really done an outstanding job,” he said of Coseo. “From the moment she took the reins in the midst of a very successful spring track season, she wanted to martial interest in cross country and focus it on things to look at and do, getting people thinking about the future.”
Despite her emphasis on team success, she has maintained her own level of individual success.
“Sometimes being a captain distracts you from your running because you take ownership of various problems that come up during the course of the season,” Duesing said. “I think being captain has actually helped her focus attention on her training and her racing.”
“Cross country is really a team sport, and not working to your full potential inevitably hurts the team even more than yourself,” said Coseo.
Mort finds himself the sole captain of the men’s squad this year, after sharing the role last fall. This makes him an especially strong presence on a young team.
“I try to lead by example,” he said. “I think if we race hard, train hard and try to love our sport, then we’ve done our best. Also, I try to instill that losing to Princeton is not an option.”
Like Coseo, Mort eschewed cross country in high school for soccer and track, captaining both teams at the Mercersburg Academy. Transitioning to cross country at Cornell proved to be a battle for him.
“Emory scratched his way onto the team as a freshman and walked on,” said men’s distance coach Robert Johnson. “Two years ago when I showed up, the team was not very good. We didn’t have a lot of recruits that were all that accomplished, so the way to improve was by working hard, and I think Emory set the standard for everyone else. The kid has an unbelievable work ethic.”
This fall, Mort has settled into the number two spot behind junior Bruce Hyde. His eighth place finish at Iona’s Meet of Champions last month boosted the team into second, behind only Iona.
On the track, Mort became fifth all-time at Cornell with an 8:56 in the steeplechase this past spring, an 11-second improvement over his sophomore effort. Johnson believes the steeplechase is his ticket to national recognition.
“Here’s a kid who was lucky to make the team as a freshman, and as a senior his goal is to make it to the NCAA championships, be All-American, and that’s a very realistic goal for him,” he said. “Emory wants to be good at running more than anything in this world.”
Archived article by Dan Schiff
Sun Staff Writer