April 24, 2007

Five Captains Lead Men’s Track

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Dedicating yourself to be a member of the men’s track team takes a lot. It is a year-long commitment, which for some members, doesn’t end until mid-June. From competing in meets, to practices — not to mention the Cornell school work-load — track can take its toll. But for senior co-captains Evan Whitehall, David Pell, Rayon Taylor, Kolby Hoover and Brad Baird, their duties extend to playing their parts as captains as well.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be named captain,” Taylor said. “It does come with a great amount of responsibility as we are looked up to as role models.”
The group of captains has helped their individual events — jumps, sprints/ hurdles, distance/ mid-distance — to a successful season, highlighted by an indoor IC4A title.
“Our indoor season didn’t go exactly as planned, losing to Princeton in the Heps,” Whitehall said. “But we got a little redemption winning the IC4As, and it motivated us into this outdoor season.”
Whitehall, who has been advising the group of pole-vaulters, has relished in the opportunity to lend a helping hand.
“[Being a captain] has been great, you just have to lead by example and make sure that everybody is on top of what they need to do,” Whitehall said.
And while the Cashmere, Wash., native has learned to help others, he also learned to lean on those teammates that he has aided.
“During the indoor season, I took on more of coaching role because I had a broken back, so I was helping [freshman] Josh Fitzpatrick work on his technique,” Whitehall said. “When I started to come back, he helped me. … It’s a second coming of age.”
As these seniors approach graduation, it is important that they not only succeed themselves but set a standard that can be held by others for next year. Taylor, who has recently battled physical fatigue, has expressed his happiness in the improvement of junior Muhammad Halim and freshman Duane Teixeira.
“I have been beaten up … but I have done a better job of communicating to the guys on how to take care of their bodies,” Taylor said. “It is good to know we have people like Duane [Teixira] and Muham­mad Halim to keep the tradition going.”
This past weekend, Halim’s — who finished No. 2 in the nation’s triple jump during the Indoor NCAAs — triple jump mark placed him No. 2 in school history, just under an inch away from Taylor’s school record.
Throughout their careers, the seniors have sacrificed their bodies and social lives, and heading into the championship portion of the season, they are able to keep their younger teammates focused. Starting this week, the team will participate in the Penn Relays, Heps, IC4As, NCAA Regionals and possibly the outdoor NCAA Meet, and this group of senior co-captains will be called upon for guidance.
“It is tough; for some of us, we will be competing all the way to June,” Taylor said. “I am going to miss Slope Day, Senior Week … but if it is important, you will make that sacrifice.”
“Now is when everything counts,” Pell said.
And now is the time when the men’s track team needs these individuals even more than ever before.