October 2, 2006

W. Harriers Finish Third

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With nine of fifteen players setting personal track records at the Iona Meet of Champions at Van Cortlandt Park, N.Y., this weekend, the women’s cross country team had a great race. Still, however, the Red could not overcome Boston College and Iona as it finished third out of 18 teams.

Iona was the most impressive team in the race with 45 points, while Boston College finished only three points ahead of Cornell with 58. The Red, though, had little to complain about in their performance. The senior tandem of Toni-Lynn Salucci and Nyam Kagwima again posted nearly identical times in finishing sixth and seventh, respectively, in the field of 176 runners. Three other Cornell runners placed in the top-25: senior Erin Linehan at 14th, senior Captian Robyn Ellerbrock at 17th, and sophomore Aeriel Emig at 21st.

“It was a very good trip to New York,” said Head Coach Lou Duesing. “Several of our players [including Salucci and Kagwima] ran over a minute faster than they did last year at this race … we were so close to beating B.C., though.”

[img_assist|nid=18707|title=Frontrunners|desc=The womens cross country team placed third at the Iona Meet of Champions.|link=popup|align=left|width=48|height=100]

Salucci’s and Kagwima’s times of 21:21.8 and 21.23.7, respectively, would have been enough to place first in the Meet of Champions last year. That, along with the fact that the Red won the meet last fall campaign, indicates the competitiveness of a New York field that featured several All-Americans and post-collegiate runners.
Kagwima was pleased with her own performance.

“I’m happy with the way the race unfolded,” said Kagwima. “It was a really good day to run … great conditions, sunny, firm ground and cool temperature.”

Kagwima said that she feeds off her teammates in big races such as this one.

“Our team is always looking out for each other during the race,” she said. “We stuck together in the beginning and through the middle of the race … we relied on each other to pace ourselves.”

There were some improvements to be made, however. Both Kagwima and Coach Duesing sited a lack of depth as the reason for finishing third.

“There’s a little too much of a gap between the second and third runners,” said Duesing. “Our future this season is dependant on [the depth issue].”

Coach Duesing retains a very positive outlook on the rest of the season, however. The conference tournament, HEPS, is still one month away, with nationals-qualifying taking place on October 14th in Indiana.

“We had to see in this race how we measured against ourselves, and we competed well,” said Duesing. I’m optimistic because our players have run better and better each week so far.”

The women will seek to continue that trend in their next meet, the national qualifiers in Terre Haute, Ind.