February 23, 2007

Track Squads Strive for History, Repeat Titles

Print More

Cornell’s track squads will travel to New York City this weekend for the indoor season’s Heps championships, aiming to once again win an event they have come to dominated in recent years.

The men’s team capped its regular season by having 28 players qualify for the ECAC Eastern Regional championships. This weekend, however, the Red must out-perform league rival Princeton to win its eighth title in nine years.

Cornell is favored to win in several events. Junior Saidu Ezike has failed to win only one hurdles event this year — earning one mark of 7. 93, just .2 seconds off the Ivy record. Junior Muhammad Halim is the only Ancient Eight runner this season to record a long jump of 24 feet, but he will have to dethrone defending champion Kyle Calvo of Penn to take the 2007 title. Halim and junior Rayon Taylor will be battling for the triple jump crown, having posted the top-2 jumps of the season among Ivy League competitors. In the weight throw, sophomore Erik Roneker will try to follow up his breakout MVP performance at last week’s Deneault Invitational to stealby grabbing the title away from Princeton sophomore Alex Pessala.
[img_assist|nid=21622|title=Run like the wind|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=67|height=100]

Perhaps the most compelling event of the meet is the high jump. Senior David Pell will aim to win the high jump in his last Heps, and the event is wide open after three-time defending champion Ray Bobrownicki of Brown graduated in 2006. Pell has an Ivy-best jump of 6-11 in 2007.

“I would actually say Princeton is the overall favorite this year,” said men’s track head coach Nathan Taylor. “They have tremendous long-distance runners and strong players in every single event. … It should be a great battle.”

The women, meanwhile, are trying to win their sixth consecutive indoor Heps title. Anchored by a number of experienced seniors throughout the top of its lineup, the Red is the favorite to win in 2007.

Senior Morgan Uceny has enjoyed a solid senior campaign that figures to continue deep into Nationals. For now, she is looking to win the 800 meters for the third consecutive season.

Senior Sarah Wilfred has won the high jump for the last two years and is the only Ivy jumper to clear the 6-0 mark this season. Finally, senior Stephanie King, who sports the league’s top 60-meter hurdles time, will try to win the event to claim the top spot for the second time in her career.

Women’s head coach Lou Duesing, however, cautioned of comparisons to past Cornell teams.

“This is a different team than in years past, so it is really impossible to ‘repeat,’” he said. “Also, the facility [New York City’s Armory Track and Field] is different from last year, so everyone will have to get used to it.”

Duesing emphasized team depth and consistency as the key to winning the tournament this year.

“Every team has quality performers in various events,” Duesing said. “The team with the most places will win this meet. … We want to have multiple point scorers in a lot of events.”

The Red will compete for the Heps title on Saturday and Sunday before heading to Boston next weekend to compete in the ECAC championships. Still, the squad is remaining focused on the meet at hand, choosing to take its schedule one day at a time.