March 12, 2007

Red Earn All-America Honors

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The Red’s last meet of the season, the NCAA Indoor National championships, culminated in impressive fashion as all four of its representatives placed in the top-5 of their respective events. Juniors Muhammed Halim and Rayon Taylor placed second and fifth in the triple jump, respectively. Senior co-captain Sarah Wilfred finished in fourth place in the high jump, while classmate and co-captain Morgan Uceny placed fifth in the 800-meter dash. All four return to campus as All-Americans, having played a part in Cornell’s best NCAA showing since 1997, when the women’s distance medley relay squad and Marc Duquella ’97 won All-America honors.

Entering the meet as the nation’s top triple-jumper, Halim rose to the occasion, improving on his previous personal-best jump. Challenged by Louisville sophomore Andre Black’s mark of 53-5 1/2, the applied economics and management major proceeded to set a school and Ivy League record jump.

“When I saw his mark, I thought I could get it,” Halim said.

Halim fell short in his final attempt, however, finishing with a mark of 53-3 1/2 that was good enough to place him in second — the Red’s highest individual finish at the NCAAs since Stephanie Best ’91 competed in the mile in 1991.

“I am very pleased [with how I did],” Halim said. “But I still have a lot to improve upon.”

Classmate Rayon Taylor wasn’t far behind with a mark of 51-1 1/2 — good for a fifth-place finish after entering the meet as the ninth seed.

Wilfred improved on her fifth-place 2006 NCAA Outdoor finish in the high jump this past weekend, moving up one spot from that showing with a fourth-place finish. Wilfred, recently honored as the Northeast Region Field Athlete of the Year, cleared heights of 6-0 and 6-1 1/4, earning her the second All-America honor of her career. Wilfred even came close to clearing 6-2 1/4, which would have given her a higher finish, but fell short of three competitive tries. Despite failing to grab a gold medal, Wilfred was still pleased with her performance.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better way to finish my indoor season. My goal was to jump as high as I could and do my best,” she said. “Any time you get All-American honors it is great. … I can’t complain.”

Earning her third All-American honor was Uceny in the 800-meter dash. Amidst an extremely talented field – three former NCAA 800-meter champions were in the final field – Uceny finished fifth with a time of 2:05.95.

“It is [finishing fifth] pretty frustrating,” Uceny said. “I know I can run faster.”

At the recent indoor Heps meet Uceny finished with a time of 2:04.58, proving that she could have indeed done better at the national meet.

“I don’t think I raced particularly that bad,” Uceny said. “It is just that I got caught up on the outside and every time and I tried to move up, I would get bumped. So I never rally got a good rhythm going … I kind of wasted a lot of energy in the middle of the race, so that by the end I didn’t have the kick that I usually have.”

Nonetheless, the quadrant can return to Ithaca with their heads high and hoping for more success in the upcoming outdoor season.

“I guess it is okay, I have another season left,” Uceny said.