February 20, 2006

Track Picks up Wins in Last Meet; Heps Next for the Red

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The men’s and women’s track teams had strong showings in the Marc Deneault Invitational on Saturday in Barton Hall, as they faced their last competition until next weekend’s Heptagonal championships.

The meet featured 15 Division III teams from throughout the region, including local rival Ithaca College and a handful of Penn State athletes. Despite competing without many of its top performers, the Red compiled 21 event wins and seven ECAC/IC4A qualifiers in preparation for Heps.

The women’s squad continued its recent dominance, winning 14 events and collecting six ECAC-qualifying performances.

“I thought considering the circumstances, our team performed very well,” said women’s head coach Lou Duesing. “Our athletes did an excellent job of not looking ahead to the Heps and taking care of business in the present.”

Leading the way for the Red was junior Morgan Uceny, who recorded a victory in the 500 meter with a time of 1:13.17. Her time was the second best time in Cornell history, set a personal record by over a full second, qualified her for the ECAC championship and earned her MVP honors for the meet.

Another standout performance in the middle distances was achieved by classmate Nyam Kagwima, who won the 800 meter event with an ECAC qualifying and personal record time of 2:13.89.

“Nyam’s performance was particularly impressive to me because of where she started from,” Duesing said. “At this point last year, she had no interest in even running the 800, but now through her own hard work she is one of the top-5 runners in that event in the league.”

Senior co-captain Sheeba Ibidunni and junior Sarah Wilford also won their respective events with ECAC-qualifying performances. Ibidunni took the weight throw with a mark of 59 feet and 7 3/4 inches, and Wilford captured the high jump with a leap of 5 feet and 8 3/4 inches.

Sophomore Maria Telloni also contributed to the Red’s cause, as her victory in the shot put with a heave of 44 feet and 10 1/4 inches set a personal record, qualified her for the ECACs and was the fourth best mark in Cornell history.

Rounding out the list of ECAC qualifiers is junior Karen Snyder, who won the triple jump with a season best mark of 38 feet and 9 inches.

Event wins were also contributed by sophomore Joan Casey in the 60 meter hurdles (9.06) and the pole vault (11 feet and 3 3/4 inches), junior Toni-Lynn Salucci in the mile (5:08.40), freshman Troy Mullins in the 60 (7.90), sophomore Katie Reidel in the 400 (59.77), junior Cameron Washington in the 300 (40.41), senior Christy Planer in the 1000 (2:57.75) and freshman Jessica Retelny in the 200 (27.02).

Although this kind of dominance is certainly impressive, Duesing was much more pleased with the amount of athletes who just missed an event win or an ECAC-qualifying performance.

“So many incredible performances are simply lost in the chaos of the meet which may not have won the event, but were certainly just as impressive,” Duesing said. “I am very pleased to see so many athletes achieving such a high level of performance, regardless of whether or not they are recognized for it.”

On the men’s side, although many of the Red’s top performers sat out the meet in preparation for next weekend’s Heps, Cornell still managed seven event wins and a number of other strong performances.

Junior Evan Whitehall led the way for the Red, as he won the pole vault with an IC4A-qualifying leap of 16 feet and 2 3/4 inches.

“For pole-vaulters like Evan, it is essential that they replicate their technique in a competitive setting as much as possible to stay in the groove,” said men’s head coach Nathan Taylor. “It is clear from his performance this weekend that Evan is in the groove and prepared to take on the Heps.”

Cornell also had event wins from sophomore Aaron Merrill in the 60 hurdles (8.33), junior Brad Baird in the 5000 (15:24.03), Neil Baker in the 400 (50.64), junior Kunle Saliu in the triple jump (44 feet and 11 3/4 inches), freshman Garrett Huyler in the high jump (6 feet and 7 inches) and the 4×400 relay team (3:27.01).

With so many deserving athletes from both squads, both coaches expect to have a difficult time selecting the 33-spot Heps roster for next weekend’s action.

“I am definitely going to have a very difficult time reducing the number to 33,” Duesing said. “However I am very pleased that I will have to make all of these tough decisions because of what people did do as opposed to what they didn’t do.”

Archived article by Lance Williams
Sun Staff Writer