October 5, 2007

Intense Offseason for Red

Print More

Despite more than five months separating them and the beginning of the men’s track season, the members of the squad are still training with tenacity and a sense of urgency.
The bar has been set high. Last season, the team crowned its first national champion, triple jumper Rayon Taylor ’07, while a handful more competed at the “Big Dance” — the NCAA championships. It’s up to this year’s men to continue the success that has brought the Red five consecutive Outdoor Heptagonal Championships.
At Wednesday’s practice, the Red’s sprinters, jumpers and hurdlers raced 500 meters as part of a battery of early season tests. Cornell’s head coach, Nathan Taylor, was excited in the moments before the event.
“They know it’s going to hurt,” Taylor said. “But they’re excited about showing where they are. This is the end of the preseason. They want to prove to themselves that they’re at a higher level than ever before.”
Taylor uses the 500-meter as an early season gauge.
“It gives me feedback on how the athletes are responding to the training. Seeing their times and performances helps me make sure that we’re doing what we need to be doing.”
But before the sprinters blazed around the track, the distance runners did their own workout — four repetitions of two miles with three minutes rest. For 32 laps, the top guys averaged five minutes per mile.
One distance runner, fifth-year senior and entrepreneur, Aaron Arlinghaus, uses the fall to train and expand his business.
Last season’s steeplechase champion, he created a fashion design label called ‘Haus’ that specializes in making original and custom leather handbags, cuffs, belts and caps. With his newly designed website, arlinghausleather.com, he operates in Cleveland, New York City and locally.
Wednesday, rather than running the 500-meters or do intervals of two miles, Arlinghaus ran up leg punishing Mount Pleasant alone. He has learned how to manage his business while being a top athlete over the years.
“In the spring, I’ll be taking about two hours a day,” Arlinghaus said. “I make time for running everyday, and everything else is about working on my business and working on my designing. I’m always doing something.”
This work ethic defines the team. In a league where 1/100 of a second or one centimeter can make the difference between being crowned champion or leaving as the runner-up, there is little room for error.
Taylor emphasizes how easy it can be to lose these tiny advantages.
“That’s one night out at a critical time, and you wonder is that worth it?” he said. “Twenty years from now you’re not going to remember anything about one night out. But you’ll remember every single HEPS.”
Last year’s NCAA Indoor runner-up in the triple jump, senior Muhammad Halim, understands the fine line between being the best and going home with more to prove. A mere two inches separated him from the national champion from Louisville.
In the outdoor season, Halim appeared to be the favorite, until a late season injury hampered his final performance. Still, he finished eighth in the meet.
With the preseason nearing a close, Taylor puts his team’s collective effort into perspective.
“They’re chasing their dreams,” he said. “That’s one of the big things you come to Cornell for is the opportunity to chase dreams.”
On Wednesday, this year’s team began writing its own chapter in Cornell track and field history.