February 25, 2005

Track Aiming for Heptagonal Title

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After completing one of the strongest winters in their respective histories, the Cornell men’s and women’s track teams will look to take home the 58th Indoor Ivy League Heptagonal Games crown this weekend. Set to take place at Harvard’s Gordon Track in Boston, the event is the culmination of the indoor season — with each Ivy League team competing for the title.

“At this type of meet, the team takes priority over everything,” said women’s head coach Lou Duesing. “People are really excited about it — we have been working hard to get to this point.”

The Cornell women — winners of the last three Heps — are the favorites for the event, having edged rival Princeton, 164-121, in last year’s showdown. The men will look to avenge last year’s second-place finish to the Tigers, who defeated the Red 141-159. However, this year, the men are also favored in the event after compiling impressive results in the regular season “I think it is going to be a slug-fest between two very good teams,” said men’s head coach Nathan Taylor. “Team-wise, Princeton and Cornell have the most depth and the greatest breadth.”

For the men, freshman sensation Jordan Lester will look to win the 60-meter with his Cornell-record and Ivy-best time of 6.83 seconds. Fellow classman Saidu Ezike — who already holds a Cornell record and the Ivy’s second fastest time in the 60-meter hurdles — will look the break Penn hurdlers’ four-year win streak in the event.

In the 500-meter, Kolby Hoover will challenge for the event’s crown and 1000-meter runners Bruce Hyde and Oliver Tassinari will eye the same honor. Tassinari is also the favorite in the mile, in which he holds the third-fastest Cornell time ever at 4:06.90. Hyde will challenge for the 3000-meter title, which should be very close between five runners.

Sophomore David Pell is the favorite to win the high jump, while Adam Sansiveri will look to defend his crown in the Pole Vault, with sophomore Evan Whitehall looking to build on his fourth-place finish of a year ago. Sophomore Rayon Taylor and Freshman Muhammed Halim will challenge in the triple jump, and Zach Beadle will challenge for the shot put crown, having placed second last year. The Red is also favored to win both the mile and two-mile relays over Princeton.

“I look at the indoor Heps as sort of a mid-term exam,” Taylor said. “But, like any test, you want to do well.”

With numerous ECAC qualifiers, the women look primed to defend their title. Stephanie King is the favorite in the 60-meter hurdles, with the top-time of 2005 at 8.77 seconds. Having won the top five spots in last year’s event, the Red are favorites for the top four spots in the 400-meter once again. Seniors Shoonda Brown and Kari Steed, junior Linda Trotter, and sophomore Cameron Washington should dominate the competition. Steed, Brown and King may also participate in the 200-meter.

However, the women will face serious challenges from their Ivy foes.

“Princeton, Yale and Brown are teams — year in and year out — that have been very competitive,” Duesing said. “It is a deep league in each event. We’re not going to take anyone for granted.”

Cornell’s Jessica Brown should score big points in the 800-meter, along with sophomore Morgan Uceny. Senior Carrie Richards should compete well in the mile, while junior Emily McCabe will make an impact in the 5000-meter — an event in which Kate Boyles is the probable winner. Cornell is also a favorite in both distance relays.

Senior Becky Tucker and junior Sheeba Ibidunni are the runaway favorites to win the weight throw.

The two have the first and second farthest throws of the season respectively, beating their next opponent’s best by over four feet. Tucker is a favorite in the shot put as well. Sophomores Sarah Wilfred, with the season’s second-best mark, and Shawna Rossini, who finished in second at last year’s event, will challenge for the high jump crown.

For Duesing and the rest of the squad, the weekend will be important priming for the upcoming outdoor season.

“You are wanting to do well this and next weekend because it is championship time,” Duesing said. “It will reflect on what we have done to get to this point — but a lot of work remains to be done.”

Archived article by Josh Perlin
Sun Staff Writer