September 22, 2006

Cross Country Squads Split Up for Road Invitationals

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For many students, Saturday morning is a sacred time. It is a time to sleep, to relax, or to try and forget whatever happened on Friday night. But while the rest of the campus will be recovering tomorrow, the men’s and women’s cross country teams will be up bright and early preparing their first invitationals of the season.

The women’s team will be driving to Buffalo to run in the UB Stampede Invite. The top-10 harriers on the men’s side will head farther north, to the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis. The rest of the men’s team will join the women in Buffalo.

Although both teams usually run together in the same meet, both teams’ coaches decided that it was in the interest of the individual teams to part ways this weekend.

“We have a very deep team,” said women’s assistant coach Artie Smith. “We don’t know who our top-7 runners are going to be yet. This meet gives them experience — everyone can run. The philosophy that we have is that we’re out to be able to provide competitive opportunities.”

Senior captain Robyn Ellerbrock agreed.

“It’ll be exciting. I think it will be a good stepping stone for the rest of the season,” she said. “We know we’re going to have a great group. You never know how an incoming class is going to fit in.”

[img_assist|nid=18488|title=Off and running|desc=The women’s cross country team will compete in Buffalo, N.Y., this weekend while the men’s squad will take a longer trip to Minneapolis.|link=popup|align=left|width=100|height=77]
The Army meet was a decisive victory for the Red — with the women winning by a margin of 35 points and the men by 18 — but coaches for both teams warned against looking too far into the early win.

“When you have one meet and the score is as lopsided as it was, you think, ‘Are we that good, or are they that bad,’” said women’s head coach Lou Duesing. “We’ll learn more about that at this next meet. I don’t do a lot of looking back. Run hard and add up the scores at the finish line.”

“The Army meet was really more of a workout for us,” said men’s assistant coach Robert Johnson. “It’s always hard for cross country at a dual meet. You don’t learn a lot.”

Finding good competition won’t be a problem at the upcoming meets.
Buffalo will also be the course for this year’s Mid-American Conference championships. This makes it all the more appealing to potential MAC contending schools such as Kent State and Akron, who will be attracted by the opportunity to give their teams an early look at the fast course.

The men’s coaches decided it would be beneficial to split up their team. The Minneapolis meet only allows teams to bring up to 12 runners. So, instead of making the rest of the team sit on the sidelines for the weekend, they will run with the women.

The Minneapolis meet will attract teams from all over the country, not just the Northeast region. This will allow Cornell to pick up points that are tallied at the end of the season and are used in making selections for NCAA championship for teams that failed to qualify automatically.

“If we are going to get to nationals, the system rewards you for being in shape early,” Johnson said. “Our guys have a history of doing a good job of training in the summer.”

Because it is so early in the season, neither team has solidified its top-7 runners, the ones who will go to regionals at the end of the season. This makes it even more important that the young members of the teams get experience while they can. Of the 10 men going to Minneapolis, three are freshman and three are sophomores.