September 25, 2006

Harriers Go Separate Ways

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While the men’s and women’s cross country team were divided this weekend, it wasn’t so easy for their foes to conquer the Red. Most of the top men’s runners were in Minneapolis for the Roy Griak Invitational, where they finished 18th overall. The women visited Buffalo for the Buffalo Stampede Invitational and took first place convincingly. The remaining men’s runners participated in Buffalo as well, finishing in second place.

In a Minnesota field that assistant coach Robert Johnson called “possibly the most competitive in the country,” the Red fell short of expectations with its 18th-place finish. There were bright spots, however, as junior Jimmy Wyner finished 36th in a field of over 300 runners, recording a time of 25:28 in the 8K race.

“I was pleased with my performance,” Wyner said. “I hadn’t done that well in cross country races in the past, so I wasn’t too confident heading into the meet. I got off to a really quick start, though, and I was just able to hold on at the end.”[img_assist|nid=18533|title=Fast times|desc=Junior Jimmy Wyner led Cornell at the Roy Griak Invite Saturday. (Sun File Photo)|link=popup|align=right|width=63|height=100]

Johnson called it a “breakthrough performance,” but said that the team had been disappointed as a whole.

“We had no room for error facing the best teams in the nation, and we didn’t run very well,” Johnson said. “But it was still a good experience for the young guys on our team. … I thought our runners really competed out there.”

Johnson did point out that senior captain Brad Baird was hurt in the weeks leading up to the meet, and that junior Sage Canaday was hindered after a strong first two miles.

“Maybe we’re better than what we ran, but every coach in the country can say that,” Johnson said. “To become a top team you have to go through some growing pains.”

Johnson also identified freshman Charlie Hatch as a strong performer, remarking that he got off to a poor start but was not intimidated, finishing 102nd overall.

The women’s team, meanwhile, faced no such disappointment while overpowering the Buffalo field. Seniors Toni-Lynn Salucci and Nyam Kagwima again competed against each other for the top spot in the meet, with Salucci narrowly besting Kagwima at 18:13.70. In the Red’s opening race against Army, it was Kagwima who edged Salucci for first place honors as they finished 1-2.

Thanks to both their strong top runners and considerable depth at the bottom, the women were not challenged against the field of Central Michigan, Colgate, Buffalo, and Niagara. Senior Erin Linehan, sophomore Katie Roll, freshman Erin Roberts, sophomore Marie Parks, and senior Christy Paul all finished in the top-10 overall.

The Red women have dominated their competition in this early 2006 season — beating second place Central Michigan by 48 at Saturday’s invitational and defeating Army by 45 points in their season opener.

With most of the men’s team’s top runners competing in Minneapolis, the remaining harriers performed admirably at the Buffalo Invites with a second-place showing. Freshman Peter Loy paced the Red with a fourth-place time of 27:15.80. The Red also took the next four spots after Loy, but came up two points short of the first-place host, Buffalo.