October 31, 2005

Cross Country Squads Finish Sixth at Heps

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This weekend’s Heptagonal Championships featured more than a dozen personal-best times for Cornell’s men’s and women’s cross country teams. Unfortunately for the Red, those times did not lead to strong team finishes.

Both squads placed sixth of eight at this weekend’s race, which determines the Ivy League’s best team, at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.

As women’s head coach Lou Duesing pointed out, it was a bittersweet end to the season. “On the sweet side, the top-9 people ran faster than they’ve ever run at Van Cortlandt Park,” Duesing said. “At the same time, I am not, [and] can not, be happy with a sixth-place finish.”

The men also came away with a sour feeling after their sixth-place showing.

In the men’s race, No. 14 Dartmouth took control of the meet, winning by a 17-point margin. Princeton placed second overall (47), followed by a tight group of four teams – Brown (90), Penn (103), Columbia (129) and Cornell (135). Seventh and eighth place were claimed by Yale (194) and Harvard (240), respectively.

Despite the absence of senior Bruce Hyde, the Red managed to improve from last year’s seventh-place finish. Junior Brad Baird placed 15th overall (25:14.9) to pace all Cornell runners.

However, Baird was not pleased with his, or his team’s, results.

“I was really kind of upset with my performance, but it was a rough weekend,” he said. “I thought we were going to run really well as a team. [Hyde] and I both had an amazing workout two days before.”

Nonetheless, there was much improvement for Cornell’s runners. Junior Rick Lader had the best race of his season, finishing 23rd overall (25:27.8) with a 10-second personal-best time at Van Cortlandt Park. Sophomore Sage Canaday placed 31st (25:35.2), while senior Bryan Jarrett improved his Heps time from last season by almost two minutes, placing 33rd (25:39.6).

Sophomore Jimmy Wyner finished 43rd (25:54.1), and rookie Zac Hine had a 14-second personal-best time, crossing the finish line 53rd (26:03.4).

Meanwhile, in the women’s race, No. 7 Columbia, led by NCAA-favorite Caroline Bierbaum’s second- straight win at Heps, won its fourth consecutive team title, with 54 points. Princeton was close behind (65 points).

The women’s finish was the fastest ever at Heps, as the top-3 runners all broke the previous course record for women runners.

Penn (104), Yale (114), Brown (129) and Cornell (132) competed hard for the third through sixth spots, with Dartmouth (147) and Harvard (164) finishing seventh and eighth, respectively.

“Twenty eight points out of third place. It sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t,” Duesing said. “If someone’s going to tell me that three-quarters [of the Cornell women] in the race are going to run a [personal record], I’m going to be [happy].”

Duesing believes the his squad suffered from a lack of experience at Heps, as Cornell was the only Ancient Eight team to boast four freshmen in its top-7.

The Red women were led by junior Nyam Kagwima’s 13th-place finish (17:55.5) – a 21-second improvement on her personal-best time.

“That was really an outstanding performance,” Duesing said. “For her to break through [the 18-minute] barrier – that puts her in the top-10 all-time at Cornell at Van Cortlandt Park. That’s pretty significant.”

Freshman Marie Parks improved her best Van Cortlandt Park time by 24 seconds (18:13.8) to place 24th, while classmate Aeriel Emig placed 28th (8:22.4). Juniors Christy Paul and Toni-Lynn Salucci placed 33rd and 34th overall, respectively, both with a time of 18:39.2. Paul improved her best time for the course by 44 seconds, and Salucci beat her personal best at Van Cortlandt Park by 10 seconds.

Rookie Dani Schaub (40th, 18:39.2) and Katie Roll (42nd, 18:44.4) also ran well in their first Heps. The Red’s rookies were the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh best freshmen in the field, which, according to Duesing, is a sign of good things to come despite the fact that the team finished sixth overall.

“I think the kids had a sense that they ran well, but they weren’t happy,” Duesing said.

Hyde Collapses During Race

Hyde, the captain of the men’s cross country team, collapsed and dropped out of the Heps this weekend. Hyde was a 2004 All-America selection and the defending champion of the event.

Cornell finished sixth at Heps without Hyde, but had hoped to finish much higher. “If Bruce would have run his race – I guess our coach would have figured we would have placed fourth,” Baird said.

According to men’s distance coach Robert Johnson, Hyde started to hyperventilate a little more than a mile into the race. In an effort to slow his breathing, Hyde quickly dropped from near the front of the race to the back. Johnson said that many of the runners who passed Hyde during this time could hear him breathing abnormally.

“I thought we were doing great – All of a sudden I saw Bruce,” Baird said. “I don’t know about anyone else – I didn’t hear any [breathing].”

Johnson said that by the time Hyde reached the back of the pack, his chest had tightened significantly. Hyde then collapsed for a moment, but continued to run the race. However, those who saw Hyde told Johnson that despite going through the motion of running, Hyde was only moving “as fast as a walk.”

Johnson said he doesn’t believe Hyde remembers much of the race.

“It’s tough to get mad at him after all he’s helped [this program],” Johnson said.

According to Johnson, Hyde has a history of breathing problems. In his senior year of high school, Hyde collapsed in a race after experiencing similar problems with his breathing. Tests on his heart and cardio-vascular system revealed no abnormalities at the time.

Archived article by Josh Perlin
Sun Staff Writer