In a sport where individual prowess commands attention, the tandem of senior high jumpers Sarah Wilfred and Shawna Rossini have proven why track and field remains a team sport.
“Shawna and I are both competitors,” senior tri-captain Wilfred said. “At the same time, we are still teammates.”
Being the sole high jumpers on the team, the senior tandem has exemplified teamwork.
“Whenever we go away, they always share the same room,” said women’s track and field head coach Lou Duesing. “Usually, I room people together who are doing the same event … and neither have complained.”
Joining the track team as a potential sprinter, Wilfred has excelled in the high jump, increasing her personal-best jump from 5-4 to 6-0.
“Most jumpers fail to improve from their high school performance, so for her to do so is incredible,” Duesing said. “Shawna has been happy to watch Sarah’s improvement over the years. They are very supportive of one another.”
Wilfred has won an Ivy League championship, broken numerous Cornell records and last season finished in the top-5 at the NCAA championships.
Rossini hasn’t been able to attain the same level of success as Wilfred since her tenure on the track team has been marred by a series of foot and ankle difficulties.
“Her lack of success is not from her lack of work but from injuries,” Duesing said. “This season, I think she has worked harder than she has ever been able to.”
Rossini’s ability to stay healthy paid dividends this past weekend in the Upstate Challenge held in Barton Hall. The Applied Economics and Management major finished fourth, completing a ECAC-qualifying jump of 5-7.
Wilfred did not perform as well as she would have liked to in the Challenge, but she was happy for Rossini’s success. Wilfred’s jump of 5-8 3/4 was good enough to win the competition but in the previous weekend, she posted a mark of 5-11 1/2 — the fourth best mark in the nation at the time.
“We not only see each other as teammates but as friends,” Wilfred said. “I was definitely happy for her … I have very high respect for her. She has taught me so much about myself.”
This upcoming weekend the duo will compete in the annual meet against Harvard and Brown in Massachusetts. The trip to Cambridge will be somewhat of a homecoming for the two. Both hail from Massachusetts, Wilfred from Brockton and Rossini from Holliston — roughly an hour away from each other.
“I don’t know, maybe they are so close now because they are from Massachusetts,” Duesing said.
Although the two athletic careers have taken different paths, their bond has only become tighter since their freshmen years.
“I wouldn’t have chosen to be with anybody else,” Wilfred said.