March 16, 2007

Track Team Hits West Coast for Spring Break

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With the arrival of spring break, the men’s and women’s track teams will kick off their outdoor track seasons this weekend by traveling to California. The Red will compete in the Long Beach State Invitational before heading to the Spring Break Invitational in Irvine, Calif., next weekend.

The men’s team is focused on shaking off the rust after a three-week layoff following the indoor season. While junior jumpers Muhammad Halim and Rayon Taylor were competing at Nationals, the other Red players have been training heavily for the upcoming season.

“We are just finishing our training phase this weekend,” said men’s head coach Nathan Taylor. “Because of that, I don’t expect us to be very sharp in this meet. … Some of our guys might not feel that good.”

Taylor added that the cross-country trip to California will make it even tougher for the Red to perform its best this weekend. Still, the men’s team has enjoyed considerable success at the Long Beach State Invitational in recent years: It has won the event, which hosts about thirty schools, for five of the past six years.

This year, the event will not be scored. The Red’s aim is to use the competition provided by other schools to start the outdoor season and to continue its training in California.

“The week in California will give us a great opportunity to continue in our preparation for the season,” said junior Jimmy Wyner.

Several notable California and West Coast programs will be represented at Long Beach. USC, Cal Polytech, Boise State and Utah have traditionally participated in the event. The host school, Long Beach State, sent the same number of athletes to Nationals as Cornell did — two.

The Red will pay particularly close attention to the events unique to the outdoor season: the 400-meter hurdles, the discus, the 4×100 meter relay, the 100-meter dash and the steeple chase.

The 400-meter hurdles will be run by juniors Adam Seabrook and Aaron Merrill, senior Kolby Hoover and freshman Mike Kippins. The group’s times are among the best in the Ivy League.

“We’d like to see how guys open the year in these events,” said Taylor. “Where they are now tells us a lot about where they will be two or three months from now.”
The women’s team, meanwhile, is treating the Long Beach State Invitational as it would any other meet.

“I expect our best effort, and I expect us to compete well,” said head coach Lou Duesing. “The goal never changes … we have an opportunity to perform well against good competition.”

Although Duesing was unsure of which teams will make up the women’s meet, there will be a fairly large fifteen teams, guaranteeing considerable competition for the top spots in each event.

“If we rely on our experience in the past, every event has been very competitive [because of the number of athletes] participating,” Duesing said.

For the women, the meet will provide a transition from the relatively short indoor season to the more important outdoor one. While jetlag is a concern, past teams have been unbothered by the travel.

“Actually, our players usually perform better in the first meet [of the week] than in the second one, and I expect no different this year,” said Duesing.