As the cross country season winds down, some look to the future while others get to reflect on their final races on Cornell’s Moakley Course or over the hills of Van Cortlandt Park. The senior harriers for both the men and women have made contributions that don’t always show up in print, but their effort and leadership have not gone unnoticed.
At last week’s Heptagonal Championships, women’s coach Lou Duesing ran five seniors, the most of any senior class in his 15 years at Cornell.
“These people came in and did a great job as freshmen and have continued to improve, to help mold the program to a point where they are clearly a very competitive team, not just locally but regionally and nationally,” said Duesing.
“I’ve always said the success of a team is determined by the quality of the senior leadership. We’re very fortunate this year to have the kind of seniors that we do.”
In addition to top runner Kate Boyles and team captain Sarah Coseo, Amber McGown, Kari Haus and Alyssa Simon have all made solid contributions in their fourth year of cross country.
“One of the neat things about our team is how close we are and particularly how close knit the senior class is,” said Simon, the second-fastest steeplechaser in school history. “I think it indicates how hard we’ve worked as a class and how far we’ve come that we’ve managed to stick with it.
“It takes its toll after a while. Being a senior varsity athlete is really demanding and it does mean sacrificing a lot of other things about college life, but it’s a sacrifice we’ve been willing to make and it’s been more than worth it for all of us.”
The men boast a relatively younger squad, one that has benefited from the example set by its seniors.
For men’s distance coach Robert Johnson, two-year captain Emory Mort is a paradigm of the work ethic he would like to see in all his athletes.
“This team works really hard and I think that’s due to Emory,” he said. “We’re starting to get some talented guys in the younger positions on this team, and if I had a whole bunch of talented guys who worked as hard as Emory, we’d certainly be a championship team, capable of getting in the top ten at Nationals.”
Johnson also recognized the consistent efforts of seniors Vasanth Coorg, Sam Mackenzie, and Oliver Tassinari, who finished fourth on the team at Heps and 35th overall.
“Oliver’s a very talented runner in the mile,” Johnson said of Tassinari. “College-level cross country’s a little bit far for him, but he’s worked awfully hard. I really think the work he’s put in this fall is going to help him in track season.”
When Johnson arrived at Cornell three years ago, he faced the challenge of coaching runners whom he hadn’t recruited. He appreciates the current seniors that enabled his smooth transition into the program.
“They could’ve made things difficult for me, but they really believe that the training philosophy I brought to Cornell is the right way to train,” he said. “As a result, we’ve made great strides forward as a program, thanks to them being supportive and really buying into what I was trying to do.”
Archived article by Dan Schiff
Sun Staff Writer