With only two weeks left until the Heptagonal Championships, the Cornell men’s and women’s cross country teams are preparing by facing some of the nation’s best squads. Because of this, it’s understandable that after their torrid starts, both teams are hitting a few bumps in the road for the first time.
The men traveled to Fayetteville, Ark., for the Chile Pepper Invitational, hosted by the nation’s top team – Arkansas. The men placed seventh overall behind their hosts, Arizona, UTEP, Alabama, California and Abilene Christian, respectively.
Running on an extremely fast 10-K course, senior captain Bruce Hyde had his best race of the season, finishing 33rd (30:10.8).
“I thought that Bruce ran a hard race,” said men’s assistant coach Robert Johnson. “It was amazing [to see] the depth of that race at the front end. It was just amazing. Bruce was like the ninth American to cross the line. It was like Kenya was having a race in the middle of Arkansas.”
“Three of those teams are ranked in the top-11 [nationally],” Johnson said. “So there’s no way we could compete with those teams.”
Johnson was also impressed with sophomore Sage Canaday’s 49th place (30:51.5) performance. After unexpectedly running a fantastic race a month ago, Canaday has only gotten better, to the delight of the coaching staff.
“Again, he’s been the surprise of the season,” Johnson said.
Still, there was much to improve upon. For one, Johnson believes the team needs junior Rick Lader and sophomore Jimmy Wyner to step it up one more notch in their performances for the team to find its greatest success. Lader placed 60th (31:09.6) and Wyner crossed the finish line 63rd (31:19.1).
According to Johnson, improvement also needs to come from junior Brad Baird, who finished 110th (32:13.3) despite suffering from cramps caused by over-hydration.
“We’re not a very good team unless Brad runs well,” Johnson said. “[But] I’m really confident that he’s going be a top performer at Heps.”
Freshmen Sam Luff ran well in the first major race of his collegiate career, placing 122nd (32:27.8).
“I thought all in all it was a satisfactory performance for the guys,” Johnson said. “I thought that four of our guys ran fairly well – basically our top-4. But [the coaching staff and I] were a little disappointed. They ran equivalent to what they ran in their last meet, but you know I’d be lying if [I said] I wasn’t hoping they would run 10 to 15 seconds faster than they did last time.”
Meanwhile, the women traveled to Pennsylvania State University Blue-White Golf Courses for the Penn State National Cross Country Meet. The Red women finished in an eighth place tie with Akron, trailing Duke – the nation’s top team – No. 20 Providence, No. 18 Tennessee, Penn State, Ohio State, Kentucky and James Madison.
Despite a slow start, the women rallied to move up throughout the course of the race. For the second straight race, freshmen finished in the top-2 spots for the Red women, and for the second straight race, Marie Parks was Cornell’s top performer. Parks crossed the line in 32nd overall (21:53), with classmate Aeriel Emig not far behind in 56th (22:22).
“Our general strategy was to run together, as a group,” Emig said. “Passing continually and trying to move up is the key. The difference in the scores can be as few as four points, and as you can see, we tied.”
Juniors Nyam Kagwima (22:25), and Toni-Lynn Salucci (22:29) placed 59th and 65th respectively, and rookie Danielle Schaub crossed the line in 73rd (22:35).
Sophomore Mary Maleta came in 82nd (22:42) in only her third meet, and first-year runner Katie Roll was right with her, crossing the line 84th (22:44).
Four of the top-6 Red runners were freshmen or sophomores, a sight that has become the norm this season for the Cornell women’s team.
“We all train together,” Emig said. “There are a lot of upperclassmen on the team who have been willing to show us how things work”
The women also competed well in the “B” race, as senior Ruth Morgan won in the first race of her career (23:28). The Red placed six in the top-16, with junior Erin Linehan (9th, 23:55), sophomore Alicia Korol (10th, 23:58), freshman Rachel Kirsch (11th, 24:00), junior Megs DiDario (14th, 24:02) and freshman Molly O’Toole (16th, 24:09) running well.
The men also had a “B” team participate in the varsity competition at Penn State and they finished in 22nd. Senior Bryan Jarrett led Cornell, finishing 84th (26:40). Freshman Zach Hine (97th, 26:48), junior David Shenk (116th, 26:55), sophomore David Krause (128th, 26:59) and freshman Eric Ryan (208th, 27:48) also scored for the Red.
Archived article by Josh Perlin
Sun Staff Writer