July 25, 2005

Track Teams Cruise at Heps Championships

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The men’s and women’s track teams breezed through the first portion of their postseasons, as both were crowned Heptagonal champions on May 8 in New York City. The feat proved special for the Red, as it now has swept the men’s and women’s Heps championships in both indoor and outdoor seasons for the second time in three years.

The outdoor season ended with the Cornell men and women both placing second at the ECAC and IC4A championships, respectively, in Princeton, N.J. The showing was the women’s best finish in their celebrated history and the men’s top finish since they won the event in 1951.

The postseason was so successful that it earned women’s head coach Lou Duesing USTCA Outdoor Regional Coach of the Year honors for the fourth time in his heralded 15-year career. Duesing has won the award before, winning it three years in a row from 2001-2003.

“The honor is certainly nice,” he said. “However, I think of the award as a reflection of how great the assistant coaches have been and of how hard these athletes have worked this season. Any coach will tell you that he or she is only as good as his or her support group.”

At the Heps, the men won by 40 points thanks to a crucial set of events on the second to last day of competition. Dartmouth, Penn, and Cornell were neck and neck with seven events to go, but it was Cornell’s spirited finish that ended all hope for the Quakers and the Green.

Sophomore Adam Seabrook, classmate Aaron Merrill, and junior Kolby Hoover finished first, second, and fourth, respectively, in the 400-meter hurdles and Zach Beadle ’05 won the shot-put to give the Red the lead. Junior Rayon Taylor clinched the victory for the Red after he placed second in the triple jump with a school-record leap. The 4×400-meter relay team of Seabrook, Merrill, Hoover, and team captain Brian Eremita ’05 ended the competition by edging out a tough Yale group in a photo finish.

Despite swirling winds the Cornell women dominated its Heps competition by winning 10 events en route to a 77 1/2 point victory over second-place Columbia. The blowout could have been even been worse if it were not for a disqualification of Cornell’s 4×400-meter relay team, as Penn’s anchor runner got tangled up with Shonda Brown ’05. As shown throughout the regular season, outstanding team depth was evident, as the women posted 40 ECAC and 15 NCAA regional qualifiers.

The meet started in dominating fashion, as junior Danielle Dufresne won her first individual Heps championship in the hammer throw with senior Sheeba Ibidunni and Becky Tucker ’05 finishing second and third, respectively, to complete a Red sweep of the event.

Senior Jamie Greubel reclaimed her heptathlon title from 2003, after setting a personal best in the 800-meter run, while Stacey Nadolny ’05 finished an outstanding career with her fourth-straight Heps discus title, bettering the competition by four feet.

“In the postseason you can’t really expect an outcome more so than you can an effort,” Duesing said. “As the case has been since I got here, these athletes just went in and played hardball. Our team just rose to the occasion.”

The relay teams proved to be Cornell’s strength since the start of the season. The 4×400-meter relay team consisting of junior Cameron Washington, senior Linda Trotter, Kari Steed ’05 and Shonda Brown ’05 continued to impress in both Heps competition and ECAC competition to the extent that they received an at-large bid to the NCAA national championship in Sacramento. The sprint relay team became the first Ivy League women’s 4×400-meter relay team to ever qualify for the national championship meet. The team ended up finishing fifth in their heat and 17th overall.

The relay unit joined sisters Brown and her sister, Jessica ’05, as the only representatives from Cornell to compete at the NCAA national championship. Shonda, who ended a brilliant career in earning ESPN The Magazine third-team academic All-America honors, ran the 400-meter hurdles and ended up placing 20th overall. The Colorado native leaves the track team after being named academic All-Ivy four times, earning 15 All-Ivy performances. She also is the holder of school records in six different events.

Meanwhile, Jessica ran the 800-meter race and finished fifth in her heat, which was good enough for 21st place in the country.

Archived article by Tim Kuhls
Sun Staff Writer