Junior Jimmy Wyner added another achievement to a breakthrough season Friday by finishing second place overall at the Heptagonal Championships (Heps) Friday in New York City. With Regional Championships still to come, he has already cemented himself as both the Red’s top runner and one of the premier cross country athletes in the Ivy League.
Wyner, a dual cross country and track runner from Somers Point, N.J., finished in 24:32 at Van Cortland Park Friday. He beat his personal best for the course by a full 72 seconds. More impressively, he dropped to 30th place early in the race after tripping and falling — then proceeded to come back to take the lead at one point late in the race before ultimately finishing behind Dartmouth’s Ben True.
Wyner and fellow junior Sage Canaday both finished on the All-Ivy team this year for the Red. Wyner’s season, however, deserves special mention.
Wyner’s first top result for the Red took place at one of the biggest events of the year—the Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota, one of the most competitive national fields in the country. He placed 36th overall out of over 300 runners in Minneapolis. Two weeks later at Penn State, he finished one second behind Canaday and sixth overall.
Wyner is coming off a disappointing sophomore cross country campaign in which he finished fifth among the Big Red at HEPS. This result was particularly disheartening in the context of his remarkable freshman year. In 2004, Wyner had what coach Robert Johnson called an “amazing” season, finishing just behind current senior Brad Baird in third place for the Red at Heps.
Wyner, who considered himself primarily a track runner prior to this year, prepared diligently for his junior season. His primary training this offseason was conducted in altitude, building his stamina.
“Training in altitude all summer…really helped me,” Wyner said. “I also ran a consistently higher mileage than I used to.”
For Wyner, training for cross country and training for track is very much the same.
“Even though I’m running five miles [in cross country] versus 800 meters or one mile in track, the training is actually pretty similar. Before this year, though, I just wasn’t very good at running five miles.”
Once the season began, Wyner became more dedicated to becoming a top runner than ever before. Throughout the 2006 campaign, he has made sure to stretch before and after each workout, get a routinely sound sleep and stick to a rigid dietary regimen. He believes such precautions have contributed to his success this year.
“In distance running, [I learned that] you really have to do the little things,” Wyner said.
For now, he remains intently focused on the upcoming Regional Championships. Wyner has made it his individual goal to finish in the top five of the race — and to qualify for the National NCAA Championships, which no Red cross country runner has done since 2004. Given the way he has performed at the two biggest meets thus far, there is little reason to doubt Wyner’s expectation.