It might not have been a totally perfect performance, but for junior Bruce Hyde and the men’s cross country team, Saturday’s NCAA Northeast Region championship was good enough. Hyde took first place overall, becoming the first NCAA regional champ in Cornell history, while the team placed seventh out of the 37 teams in attendance at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, N.Y.
“Going into the meet, I thought that the national rankings were a joke and that we were definitely one of the top 10 teams in the region,” said men’s distance coach Robert Johnson. “We certainly made that point.”
Hyde led the scoring for the Red with his first place finish on the 10K course with a time of 30:36.1. He was joined by freshman Jimmy Wyner, who placed 41st overall in 32:18.8, 51st-place finisher, sophomore Ricky Lader (32:30.1), senior captain Emory Mort (32:36.1, 57th place), and sophomore Brad Baird, (33:07.6, 86th place).
The story of the meet for the Red was Hyde, who will run at the NCAA championships in Terre Haute, Ind. next Monday.
“Bruce’s race was outstanding,” Johnson said. “Going into the race, all I cared about was making sure he qualified for nationals, and it was clear at the five-mile mark he was going to do that. For him to get the win was a phenomenal accomplishment.”
Johnson and Hyde had a simple strategy going into the meet — run well enough to qualify, but try to run as relaxed a race as possible.
“I was definitley prepared to run a really hard race, but if that wasn’t the case, I could really cruise and save some energy for nationals,” Hyde said. “It’s tough to recover between two hard 10k’s in the time between regionals and nationals.”
The strategy worked out just as well as either could have expected.
“I got out, had a good start and just tucked in behind the leader and was in the lead pack, and just kind of sat up there for the first three, four miles,” Hyde said. “I really didn’t feel like I was running that hard. At around three and a half miles, I looked around and realized that we had a probably 75-meter lead on the rest of the field, and it was a small pack of a Providence College runner, an Iona runner and two other Ivy guys. I knew I was going to make nationals, I knew it was in the bag. At that point, I just kind of enjoyed it.”
At this point, Hyde relaxed a bit and prepared to cruise to the finish line. It didn’t appear that a first-place finish was in the cards, but that was fine with Hyde.
“When we got down to the last 800 meters, a guy made a move, and I just pretty much thought, ‘well, ok, I’ll get second or third or whatever, I’m already qualifying for nationals, I don’t need [to win] this.’ The way it worked out, I ended up picking it up a little bit because I didn’t want any of the other Ivy guys to beat me,” he said.
“The win was a little bit unexpected,” Johnson said. “Coming into the year, I said I’d be more surprised if he wasn’t an All-American than if he was. He’s probably running a little bit better than we thought he would be at this point.”
The women’s cross country team, led by senior Kate Boyles, placed fifth overall on Saturday, three points behind fourth-place Boston College.
“I was very happy with it. We didn’t have everything go better, but we had a lot of things go better [than at the Heptagonal championships,]” said women’s head coach Lou Duesing. “Compared to the times people ran at Iona, pretty much across the board, we ran a lot faster. I thought people competed well.”
Boyles placed sixth overall on the 6K course in a time of 20:48.8, good enough to qualify her for the NCAA championships next Monday.
“The goal all along was for her to run the best race that she could, but make sure that she was at worst, in the top four, because that’s who moves on to the national meet — the top four individuals, not on one of the qualifying teams,” Duesing said. “We pretty much knew going in that the two qualifying teams were going to be Providence and Columbia. So if she was behind Providence and Columbia people, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”
Other scorers for the Red included senior Amber McGown in 30th at 21:58.8, sophomore Nyam junior Kagwima at 43rd at 22:08.3, and Mandy Knuckles in 41st with a time of 22:21.8.
“Amber McGowan has been rock solid all year, and she kept doing that,” Duesing said. “She ran a terrific race, very controlled, her 5K time was the same time that she ran two weeks ago, so that just means that it was a better effort and a better run. Nyam Kagwima by far had her best race of the year.”
Archived article by Owen Bochner
Sun Sports Editor