After an outdoor season most notable for its turbulent weather conditions, the men’s and women’s track teams will begin the postseason by traveling to Princeton, N.J., for Heps tomorrow. The Ivy League title is described by players and coaches as the biggest meet of the year.
The women’s team, which has won 10 straight indoor and outdoor Heps in addition to this season’s indoor Heps, is again the odds-on favorite in 2007.
“I cannot see anyway our team would not win outdoor Heps,” said senior co-captain Morgan Uceny, a national title threat and two time-defending champion in the 800 meters.
The Red have the advantage over other Ivy League rivals Penn and Brown at most events. Fans, however, should be treated to a dynamic dual between Cornell senior Toni-Lynn Salucci and Yale star Lindsay Donaldson in the 3000.
“It will be a good matchup, but if I don’t beat her, I should at least run a really good time this weekend,” Salucci said. “In the past, I have done well at Heps. I usually set a personal record … at Heps. The team is extra supportive and everyone is cheering for everyone else.”
Salucci, who is also one of the top runners on the Red cross country squad, will try to pace herself and feed off the energy of the meet.
“The only strategy I have is to run smart … You can’t necessarily go out there to run fast, you have to be more concerned with your place.”
Other favorites for the Red include senior tri-captain Sarah Wilfred, a national contender who won at last weekend’s Penn Relays, and senior Robyn Ellerbrock, coming off a career-best fifth-place finish at the Relays.
“It both helps us and hurts us that we have had so much success at Heps,” said head coach Lou Duesing. “On one hand, no other team has a sense of what it takes to win the meet, and we do … But there’s a fear that [our] people could start to become complacent.”
Uceny, however, doesn’t think so.
“Our team gets so competitive at Heps. There is no way we would allow a loss to happen,” she said.
For the men’s team, the 2007 Heps are about revenge. After enjoying a similar string of titles for several years, the indoor team finished second to Princeton at Heps this February.
“I definitely feel we can beat Princeton,” said senior co-captain David Pell, who will compete in the high jump. “We both have good teams, but if we put together what I think we are capable of doing, we should come away on top.”
Junior Muhammad Halim, seeded first in the triple jump and the long jump, believes the meet will be decided by motivation.
“Talent-wise we are pretty similar,” Halim said. “But I believe the team that brings the 36 hungriest, fiercest athletes will come out on top.” Halim, who won both events at Indoor Heps, will be most threatened by Penn junior Kyle Calvo in the long jump.
The jumping events are Cornell’s strongest, while the deciding factor in Indoor Heps was Princeton’s dominating performances in the distance events. The pressure will be on junior David Krause and freshmen Charlie Hatch and Owen Kimple to try to give the Red some scoring in the 3000 and 5000.
“I think any athlete would tell you that conference weekend is something special,” Halim said. “Meets like Nationals or Regionals are largely individual. Heps is the culmination of all the parts of a team coming together.”