With a week to go before the Heptagonal Championships, the men’s and women’s cross country teams will finally race on their home turf in today’s Reif Memorial Run. Traditionally this has been a small, local meet, featuring such teams as Ithaca College and Syracuse, and this year will be no different.
The Reif Run is always held a week before the Heps, so it is largely an opportunity for the junior varsity athletes to make a statement while the top 12 runners for the men and women rest up.
“Only in one year did the team run fully,” said women’s head coach Lou Duesing, who used to coach both squads. “It didn’t bother the women that much but it did the men. I decided I might use it to determine the last spot or two if the need arose, but I pretty much have kept the top runners out.”
While the Reif represents the last race of the season for most of its competitors, today’s top two finishers on each Red team will see at least a few more weeks of action. The Heps only allows 12 runners per team, but the NCAA Regional Championships on Nov. 13 allow 14.
“The Reif is really designed for the younger guys to really shine,” said men’s distance coach Robert Johnson. “For the 13th or 14th guy on the team, you’ve got a chance to win the race, so it can be a big confidence booster. As a coach you get to see who’s really got that winning mentality, who’s capable of winning a race.”
The meet will be held on Cornell’s Moakley Course, which carves out five miles of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course for the men and 3.1 miles for the women. With the volume of rain that’s been falling the last few days, some alterations will be necessary.
“The course will be very slow because of standing water and soft footing in most spots,” Duesing said. “One of the unique things about the course in the last 1000 meters is the descent into the gorge. It’s a real test, especially at the end of a race. Because of the horrible conditions going down into the gorge we will, in all likelihood, not be running that part. So the times won’t really mean all that much because it’ll be a course that’s never been run before.”
The Reif Memorial has been held every year since 1987, in honor of John Reif ’86. Reif was a Red harrier and track athlete who competed in the 1500 and steeplechase. After graduation, he returned home to St. Louis, Mo., where he began work in medical research and trained to become a professional triathlete. He was on a bicycle training ride when he was hit by a car and killed.
“John demonstrated the attributes of hard work and being a great teammate and a very good competitor,” Duesing said. “I’ve just always wanted to carry on the tradition and celebrate him.”
“It’s pretty low key in terms of the competition but it’s a really fun meet,” Johnson said.
Archived article by Dan Schiff
Sun Staff Writer