February 13, 2008

M. Track Relays Continue Tradition of Success

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As talented as many of the individuals on the men’s track team are, the collective team may be stronger than the sum of its parts. The team has won five consecutive outdoor Heps championships, as well as three of the previous five indoor Heps titles.
The team’s recent success is due largely to the team’s depth, as the Red always boasts dozens of the elite track competitors in the Ivy League. The team’s great depth this year has become most evident in the relay events.
The indoor track season features three different relay competitions: the 4×400 meter relay race, the 4×800 meter relay race, and the distance medley race. The Red has recently had success in all three events.
Cornell 4×800 meter relay race teams have been absurdly successful. The Red has claimed three consecutive IC4A indoor titles, despite the fact that the IC4As include roughly 100 schools, including schools from the ACC and Big East conferences. Last year, it was Brian Mongeon ’07, current seniors Mike Smayda and Jimmy Wyner and current junior Andy Miller who won the event in 7:37.28.
The spots on this year’s squad are still up for grabs, although four runners have begun to separate themselves from the pack as deserving a chance to compete. Those four runners are Smayda, senior Ian Ward, junior Jay Harding and sophomore Charlie Hatch.
Cornell’s recent 4×400 teams have also enjoyed outstanding results. Last season the Red set a record by running the fastest 4×400 Heps time in conference history. Kolby Hoover ’07 teamed with current members of the team senior Adam Seabrook, junior Marcel van Eeden and sophomore Mike Kippins to finish the race in 3:12.98.[img_assist|nid=27704|title=Hightailing it|desc=Freshman Andrew Corridore (7) and the men’s track team will host the Indoor Heptagonal Championships in less than a month. The Red will depend on continued strong performances from relay teams during the two-day event.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Van Eeden and Seabrook are expected to be back with the 4×400 squad this season. Senior Aaron Merrill will also likely join the squad. The fourth spot, however, is still up for grabs, as Kippins is battling to keep his spot. According to head coach Nathan Taylor, two freshmen, Cody Boyd and Brian Freitas are “breathing down his neck.”
Just a few weeks ago, Merrill, Seabrook, van Eeden and Freitas almost won the 4×400 race at Madison Square Garden’s Millrose Games. The team eventually placed second after problems handling the baton.
The Distance Medley Relay (DMR) consists of four legs run successively at 1200 meters, 400 meters, 800 meters, and 1600 meters. Cornell has recently had strong runners for both short-distance and middle-distance races, allowing them to have strong DMR teams. Just two years ago, the Red’s indoor DMR team was ranked in the top five in the nation.
The spots on this year’s DMR team are very much in flux.
“There are a lot of candidates for [the DMR],” Taylor said. “We will run much faster than we’ve run. The next time that we’ll run that will be at the Heps. There are just a lot of things that will come into play. As we go into those final races of the meet, with those three relays, we may have as many as twenty guys getting ready to run, of which we’ll run twelve. There’s no set group.”
“I think we focus more on [relay events] than maybe some other teams,” Ward said of the team’s relay success. “It’s something we think about all year. Also, a lot of our middle distance guys do more running than athletes at other schools.”