October 5, 2007

Fresh Faces Provide Boost for Cross Country

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What the women’s cross country team lacks in experience, it more than makes up for with talent. Two of its most talented runners hail from the freshman class. Rookie runners Kim Standridge and Katie Sullivan have led the way for the Red thus far this season.
In each of the team’s three races thus far this season, Standridge has finished first among Cornell runners.
“I’m very surprised,” she said. “I didn’t think that that was gonna happen, especially my freshman year. I was worried about not making the top-7.”
Sullivan has finished among the Red’s top-4 in each race, including third place in each of the team’s previous two races. Sophomore Stephanie Pancoast is the only other Cornell runner who has finished among the team’s top-4 finishers in every race.
“I think that both [Standridge and Sullivan] started off with a very, very good summer,” said head coach Lou Duesing. “One of the problems often times with an incoming freshman is that they don’t really ‘get it,’ in terms of what they need to do over the summer. The training is very different. Both of them did a very good job there.”
Duesing also credited leadership from the more experienced runners as a factor in the success of the freshmen.
“The juniors and sophomores have done a great job in kind of making sure that [the freshmen] are up to speed on what we’re doing running-wise, training-wise and weight lifting-wise,” he said. “A good mentoring job [is important] so that the freshmen don’t seem like they’re working hard in trying to belong. When you are immediately welcome, it’s a lot easier to fit in.”
Standridge’s results have been particularly exceptional this year. In just her first collegiate race, she set a new school record by running the 5K in 18:36.3, a pace of just under six minutes per mile.
“I honestly don’t know what [the other school records] are, but of course it would always be nice to go for some,” she said. “I guess I’ll just see how the rest of the season goes.”
Two other freshmen, Caroline Schultz and Colleen McNaughton, have shown potential; however, each has been slowed by injuries this year.
“Caroline Schultz has had a foot problem that she arrived here with, but she’s been back at it and is going to run next weekend,” Duesing said. “If not this year, certainly next year she would be someone who would make an impact. Colleen McNaughton had a terrible down time virtually her entire senior year [of high school] … and now is injured, but she certainly demonstrated with her two races that she’s one of our top runners.”
As strong as the freshmen class looks, coach Duesing refuses to become overconfident about the team’s future.
“I’ve been at it long enough to know that there’s nothing for certain,” he said. “Knowing that this entire team will be back next year is certainly a nice feeling, but I don’t think much about that. We’re in the middle of a season and I’m much more concerned about that. All bets are off in terms of how good or successful the team will be next year.”