February 3, 2006

Track Teams Return Home for Invitational

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The men’s and women’s track teams will stay at home this weekend when they take on several Division II and III squads – including local rival Ithaca College – in the Cornell Invitational. Although they are facing the same opponents, the men’s and women’s squads are taking distinctly different approaches to the meet.

On the men’s side, head coach Nathan Taylor sees the meet as an opportunity for some of the younger members on the squad to prove themselves before Taylor decides who to take to the Heptagonal championships in four weeks.

The Red is coming off a weekend in which it experienced mixed results, significantly contributing to the Ivy League’s thrilling victory at the Heps vs. Big East Challenge, then falling to Brown by one point the following day.

“The [Cornell] Invite is simply an opportunity for members of the squad who have the ability to compete at the highest level, yet for some reason or another haven’t quite done so yet, to prove that they belong with the big boys,” Taylor said.

This approach to the meet will allow the Red to rest many of its top performers, most of whom competed in two meets this past weekend, in preparation for next week’s very competitive Penn State Relays.

Although Taylor would not mention any names, he offered the long jump, high jump and the 60-meter dash as events in which he expects certain athletes to perform well.

On the women’s side, head coach Lou Duesing is taking a very different approach to the meet, acting under the premise that nothing can better prepare his athletes for the Heps than competitive meet experience.

“Competing in meets allows these athletes to work on the things that will get them closer to achieving their goals,” Duesing said.

The Red dominated the invitational from the very outset last year, winning 15-of-17 events as well as setting nine ECAC qualifying standards.

And Duesing feels there is no reason to suspect the women can’t perform equally well this weekend.

Cornell has competed almost flawlessly this season, as it has taken first place in every meet it has participated in. That includes last weekend’s tri-team competition against Brown and Harvard, in which Cornell compiled 13 ECAC and two NCAA provisional qualifying marks.

Regardless of the Red’s competition, however, Duesing always expects a strong effort out of his athletes.

“I expect them to one, appreciate the opportunity given to them, and two, give their full and complete effort when it is their turn to compete,” Duesing said. “You simply can’t control anything else.”

One of the biggest reasons for the Red’s overwhelming success has been the vast improvement of many of the team’s returning athletes along with the success of several key rookies.

Freshmen Jeomi Maduka and Janice Nsor both recorded a time of 7.70 seconds in the 60-meter dash – the second-best time in Cornell history.

However, the vast improvement of returning athletes, such as senior co-captain Sheeba Ibidunni and junior Morgan Uceny, has been one of the biggest contributors to the Red’s success this season.

Ibidunni improved her mark in the weight throw by over three feet from her junior season, setting an all-time Ivy League record in the process.

And Uceny has shaved several seconds off of her 800-meter time – an event in which she finished sixth at the NCAA championships last season. Uceny won last week’s 800 by five seconds.

“I think a lot of our athletes are running as fast as they ever have and I am looking forward to seeing them compete this weekend,” Duesing said.

Archived article by Lance Williams
Sun Staff Writer