Despite progress in results and team health this year, Cornell’s cross country teams found themselves at the mercy of a very talented Ivy League field at Friday’s Heptagonal championships at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. Junior Bruce Hyde claimed the individual Heps crown for the men, but the team jumped only one spot from 2003’s last-place finish.
Meanwhile, the women found themselves in fifth place for the second consecutive year.
Columbia came away with both team titles, the first Heps sweep by any team since Dartmouth in 1995.
Hyde claimed first place by finishing the five-mile course in 24:35.5, four seconds in front of Yale’s Lucas Meyer. Hyde broke away from a pack of about eight runners around the 3.5-mile mark, then maintained his lead on Meyer up the incline known as Cemetery Hill. After the hill, Hyde strategically decided to let Meyer make his move, and the Eli briefly took the lead. Hyde confidently broke into his finishing kick with about 500 meters to go, passing Meyer and crossing the line to become Cornell’s first Heps champion since 1993.
Following a disappointing 97th-place finish by Hyde at the Pre-National Meet two weeks ago, men’s distance coach Robert Johnson praised his top runner’s winning performance.
“I thought, going into the race, if he ran well he had a chance to win,” he said. “There were a lot of really talented runners in the race this year. Bruce just took it to them and won pretty convincingly.”
Sophomore Brad Baird, described by Johnson as a “big race performer,” finished with a personal best time on the course and came in second for the Red. Unfortunately for Cornell, some of the usual varsity stalwarts, including senior captain Emory Mort and sophomore Aaron Arlinghaus, ended up buried near the back of the pack.
“We went in as the seventh-most talented team at the starting line,” Johnson said. “That was where we were talent-wise and we ran to that talent level. Most of the guys ran pretty well, but our normal number two and three guys did not show up.”
Hyde relished his personal victory, but knew the team had underachieved.
“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “I’m really happy with the way I ran, it’s a really big deal for me. But it’s tough to really enjoy it much when the rest of the guys didn’t have such a good day.”
The women’s squad was led by senior Kate Boyles, who came in third overall with a time of 17:20, shattering the Cornell record for the Van Cortlandt course by ten seconds. Although several harriers achieved personal best times, the team still felt a bit ambivalent about its fifth-place finish.
“One of the comments I had made was that, because of how good teams were [in the Ivy League], we could run a lot better than last year and still end up in fifth place,” said head coach Lou Duesing. “That’s exactly what happened.
Senior Alyssa Simon ran a personal best on the course en route to a 31st-place finish, fourth for the Red. She had not scored for the team in any race this season until Friday.
“I think as a team we’re disappointed because we thought we could do better, but it wasn’t for lack of effort on anyone’s part,” she said.
“We’re light years ahead of where we were last year. To come in and finish in the same place doesn’t really accurately portray what this team’s accomplished.”
The Red will next race at the NCAA Regional Qualifiers on Nov. 13, once again at Van Cortlandt Park.
Archived article by Dan Schiff
Sun Staff Writer