October 13, 2006

Cross Country Squads Hit the Road for Tuneup Meets

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Both cross country squads will be in action tomorrow, as most of the women’s team will travel to Terre Haute, Ind., for the Pre-National Meet, while the men will head to nearby Rochester, N.Y., for the Rochester Invitational.

The Pre-National Meet may be the Red’s toughest meet to date. The top women runners will face an 87-school field featuring 28 of the nation’s top-40 ranked teams.

The Red, however, is adamant that it will approach this weekend’s event with exactly the same mentality as prior competitions.

“The expectations for this meet will not at all change,” said women’s head coach Lou Duesing. “If we do what we’ve done, then we’ll be very competitive.”

It may sound like mere coach-speak, but what the Red has done this season — two first-place finishes and a near-victory over ranked Boston College in New York — has been impressive. Duesing saw no reason to doubt the strength of his team’s schedule heading into pre-nationals.

“The meets we’ve had have really prepared [our runners] well from a physical standpoint,” Duesing said. “That’s clear because of the number of personal bests our athletes have recorded already. … We gained confidence that we can compete with the top-ranked teams in New York.”

Duesing added that he doesn’t think any school has faced such a large and competitive field yet. In Indiana, the runners will be split in half. The Red will aim to place within the top-13 of its half, beating at least one ranked opponent. Seniors Nyam Kagwima and Toni-Lynn Salucci, who have placed in the top-7 individually of every meet thus far, will lead the charge.

Meanwhile, other women’s cross country runners will accompany the men’s squad to the Rochester Invitational and attempt to compete without the top runners.

The men’s team, having already run the Pre-National Meet in Minnesota three weeks ago, is coming off a second-place finish at the Penn State Invitational.

The Red believes it can build off of its performances this season to take the top spot in Rochester. Though it finished a disappointing 18th out of 34 at Pre-Nationals, the runners have placed in the top-2 in each of their other three meets.

Junior Jimmy Wyner has had another fine season to lead the men. Already an accomplished track runner, Wyner made his mark on the cross country scene by leading the Red at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota. He and sophomore Sage Canaday have been Cornell’s most consistent runners this year.

Other runners to look for in Rochester will be freshmen Charlie Hatch and Owen Kimple, who have cracked the starting lineup in their debut seasons. Senior Captain Brad Baird, who has had a very disappointing final season to date, will be looking to snap out of his slump and compete for a top ten spot. The Red have only one more meet before Heptagonal championships at the end of the month in New York.