It had all the makings of a great day to race – beautiful weather, nationally ranked competition, and a historic venue – as the Red cross country teams participated in the nationally renowned Iona Meet of Champions. With the stage set for a great meet, it is not surprising that the meet went exactly as advertised on Saturday.
The Cornell men’s and women’s teams followed up strong showings in their first meets at Army last weekend with third and first-place finishes, respectively, at the historic Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, where the Meet of Champions was held.
The women had seven runners in the top-20 overall, a phenomenal accomplishment considering the fierce competition, which included Iona, Dartmouth and LaSalle. The win for the women was a big improvement from the team’s fourth-place finish from a year ago, in which just three of the top-20 runners were from Cornell.
“The team ran phenomenally this weekend,” said senior captain Angela Kudla. “Everyone was so excited.”
The women had run in a tight group, moving towards the head of the pack throughout the race. This is evident in the fact that the first and seventh Cornell runners finished just 19 seconds apart.
“We had pretty much the same strategy as we did in the first race,” Kudla said. “That seems to work really well for us.”
Once again, the Red’s freshmen played a key role in the victory, as classmates Aeriel Emig (11th overall, 22:19.8) and Danielle Schaub (12th, 22:20.1) were the first two Cornell women to cross the finish line. Junior Toni-Lynn Salucci (13th, 22:20.9) finished just ahead of rookie Marie Parks (14th, 22:25.1), and the two finished third and fourth among Cornell runners, respectively.
With three freshmen as the top-4 Cornell finishers – the second straight meet of strong rookie finishes – it is clear the first-year class is a force to be reckoned with.
Senior Christy Planer battled sickness to finish 17th (22:37.3), closing out the 17 1/2 second gap between the team’s top-5 scoring runners.
Juniors Nyam Kagwima (18th, 22:37.9) and Christy Paul (19th, 22:39.5) finished sixth and seventh, respectively for Cornell, and Kudla (26th, 22:54.5), who finished close behind, was the eighth Cornell finisher.
Of the 11 upperclassmen, five set personal-bests, which should be a good sign for the rest of the season.
The men’s squad also fared well in the 2005 version of the same meet in which it placed second a year ago, as it finished third in the field of 38 teams, behind only nationally-ranked Arkansas (third) and Iona (seventh). The Arkansas men’s squad put forth an amazing performance, with runners finishing second through sixth place overall. Cornell finished with three runners in the top-25 overall.
“As a team we ran really, really well,” said 2004 All American and men’s team captain, senior Bruce Hyde. “We had a few guys run some really outstanding races – but for the most part we just did what we had to.”
Hyde finished 10th overall (25:04), and despite having won the meet last season, he believes that he put in a solid effort for a meet this early in the season.
“I wouldn’t say it was a disappointment,” Hyde said. “I ran about the same time as I did last year – I kind of went out really hard and just faded.”
Staying at the pace of the meet’s winner, Iona’s Richard Kiplagat (23:54.4), proved to be quite a challenge for Hyde, as Kiplagat ran the fourth best collegiate time ever at the park.
Although Hyde’s time was the best of the Cornell men, it may not have been the most significant. That distinction could have been given to both junior Brad Baird and sophomore Sage Canaday. Baird placed 12th, running a personal-best 25:10.9, while Canaday (24th overall) crossed the finish line third out of Cornell racers, and ran a personal-best time of 25:27.3. Baird and Canaday improved their personal-bests by 40 seconds and 110 seconds, respectively, which, according to assistant coach Arthur Smith, were both incredible jumps.
“I think it was a great weekend,” Baird said. “I think we were just really excited because we knew we were running against Arkansas and Iona.”
“I normally don’t train over the summer,” Baird, who also noted that he decided to train over this past summer, said. “[So] coming into the season I knew I was in good shape.”
According to Baird, his improved fitness was one of the main reasons which allowed him to improve his personal-best time so drastically.
Sophomore Jimmy Wyner (32nd, 25:45.3) and senior Bryan Jarrett (37th, 25:49.6) rounded out the Cornell top-5, while freshman Sam Luff (45th, 25:55.9) and junior Rick Lader (47th, 25:57.1) were the Red’s sixth and seventh finishers, respectively.
Archived article by Josh Perlin
Sun Staff Writer