Two weeks ago, the men’s and women’s cross country teams found themselves trailing much of the Ivy League pack at the Heptagonal Championships at Van Cortland Park in the Bronx. Saturday, the Red will have the opportunity to avenge that result when it participates in the NCAA Regional Qualifying meet on the same course.
After a seventh-place finish, the men’s team will hope to make a statement that it is to be taken seriously.
“I think that right now in the regional rankings we’re not even in the top 10, which I think is a joke,” said distance coach Robert Johnson. “I think the team has been disrespected by those rankings, and I’d like to prove to people that we are better than that.”
Cornell is led by junior Bruce Hyde, who took first place individually at Heps two weeks ago. “I think after Heps, Bruce is clearly one of the better runners in the country,” Johnson said. This meet also poses an increase in distance over the season’s previous meets. The runners will be forced to extend themselves an extra mile, as this is a full 10-kilometer course as opposed to the customary five-mile jaunt.
“The longer distance is going to play a big factor. I’m looking forward as a team for the rest of the guys to run as a group,” Johnson said. “I think by running smart over 10,000 you can run a lot better than shorter distance stuff.”
On the women’s side, the Red will be looking to avenge a fifth-place finish from two weeks ago. Cornell will send its top seven varsity and top seven junior varsity runners, who will hope to make the most of a relatively familiar course.
“Van Cortland Park is a very unique course, so the more familliar you are with it, the greater the likelihood you’re going to have a better race there,” said women’s head coach Lou Duesing. “Some of the teams train there, so I don’t know if we’re ever going to catch up with them, but it still is something that is very unique, a very different course. Sometimes familiarity breeds contempt, but I don’t think that’s true when it comes to cross country.” Senior Kate Boyles was Cornell’s top performer at Heps, as she placed third overall with a school record 17:20 on the course.
However, despite the middle-of-the-pack finish, the Red feels it is well ahead of where it was last year. It will also be looking to make a statement on the team level.
“I expect it to be as it typically is, and that is very great. We’re in a very competitive region,” Duesing said. “Teams are trying to finish in the top two so they can get an automatic qualification. If you can’t be first or second, then you want to be third so that you can be in a position for an at-large bid. A lot of schools are coming in having that certainly be one of the goals for the weekend.”
The team looks to Saturday’s meet with optimism as the season winds down.
“I really have been happy with the team,” Duesing said. “It’s been a fun group to work with, and they’re really going into this meet with a purpose, they want to run well, and have the kind of day that they want to have, and I think we’ll walk away feeling very very good about the race.”
Archived article by Owen Bochner
Sun Sports Editor