The men’s and women’s track team will have a busy schedule this weekend, splitting up its athletes between the Penn State Invitational in State College, Pa., and the Robert J. Kane Invitational at Barton Hall.
Both the men’s and women’s squads will bring 25 of their top performers to Penn State to take on many top-tier Division-I schools, including powerhouse Central Michigan and Ivy League rival Penn.
Although it is clear that the meet will feature the Red’s toughest competition until the Heptagonal championships in two weeks, Cornell has historically done very well against the field, placing in the top-4 each of the last three years.
“I look at this meet as the last major stepping stone. The competition we will be facing this weekend will be championship caliber and as such, will be a great way to prepare for the upcoming Heps relays,” said men’s head coach Nathan Taylor.
This opinion was echoed by his colleague, women’s head coach Lou Duessing.
“Obviously this is very good preparation for our upcoming championship meets. I am really not that worried about our score at all, I just want to see our athletes get into the right mentality and go down there with a purpose,” Duesing said.
The remaining members of both teams will stay at home this weekend to compete against a wide assortment of teams in the Robert J. Kane Invitational.
All three collegiate divisions will be present at the meet, including local rival Ithaca College, defending Division-III national champion SUNY Geneseo and the University of Toronto.
The Red’s athletes will not just be competing for pride, as many spots on the Heps roster are still up for grabs on both squads.
“Every year athletes competing at the Robert J. Kane Invitational will make the Heps team and score for us there. Splitting up the team is just a way to keep everyone involved in the action,” Duesing said.
The Red has performed very well throughout the indoor season, with the women taking first in every event they have entered and the men finishing with similar results.
Cornell has produced not only dozens of IC4A and ECAC qualifying athletes but also several NCAA championship qualifying marks, most notably from senior co-captain Sheeba Ibidunni and junior Morgan Uceny.
“By every measure I can think of – top places in meets, the number of personal and school records, and the number of IC4A and NCAA qualifying athletes – we have lived up to my expectations,” Duesing said.
Despite this success, it is clear if that if the Red wants to perform well at Heps, it needs to continue to make improvements.
“Many of our athletes are right where they need to be physically, however they still need time to put it all together,” Taylor said. “Although they are in great condition, they still need to improve both technically and mentally in their respective events.”
The Red’s performance this weekend will give the entire coaching staff a much better idea of what they should expect out of their team in two weeks when Cornell’s elite will travel to Hanover, N.H., to compete in the critical Heps championships.
Archived article by Lance Williams Sun Staff Writer