March 25, 2008

Red Harriers Impress at NCAAs

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The Ivy League Player of the Year in women’s basketball has also shown an ability to excel on the track. Junior Jeomi Maduka, a star on the women’s basketball team, earned All-American honors in the long jump just hours before leading the Red to an Ivy League title-clinching win against Dartmouth.
Maduka had jumped 21—2 inches at Heps. She placed eighth at Nationals with a jump of 20-05.25. Junior Brittney Reese of Mississippi won the competition, which took place in Fayetteville, Ark.
“Typically, that’s not an easy place to jump,” said women’s coach Lou Duesing. “They have elevated runways that have a very, very different feel than any other runways that people run on. What’s also different is that Jeomi comes from a real team background so when the team title is on the line, the juices are flowing. There, you’re on your own, your teammates aren’t there…it’s a very different atmosphere.”
Despite the conditions, Maduka’s superior athleticism allowed her to earn the coveted All-American status.
“Everyone has an appreciation for how difficult it is to get to the show,” Duesing said of Nationals. “[Her teammates] were very excited and we were happy to see her earn All-American.”
The men’s team also boasts an All-American of its own. For the second consecutive year, Muhammad Halim, now a senior, earned All-American honors in the indoor triple jump. Halim placed fourth overall with a triple jump of 16.25 meters. Arkansas junior Nkosinsa Balumbu won the competition. [img_assist|nid=29084|title=One giant leap|desc=Junior Jeomi Maduka earned All-American honors in the long jump at the NCAA competition.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Halim won the Heps Outstanding Athlete award by winning the long jump and dominating the triple jump event at that competition. In 2007, Halim was joined as an All-American in the triple jump by teammate Ray Taylor ’07.
Senior Saidu Ezike also represented Cornell in Fayetteville. He competed in the 60-meter hurdles and may have earned All-American status if not for a slight misstep.
“I got out real well and I think if I wasn’t in the lead, I was neck and neck with the person who was, but I lost my balance after hurdle three and it was downhill from there,” Ezike said. “Even though I wasn’t pleased with the result, it gave me a lot of confidence for outdoors. I know I can run with the fastest hurdlers in the country.”
Ezike placed 16th overall with his time of 7.96 seconds. Coach Duesing believes that seeing a teammate excel at a national level can have a positive impact on other members of the team.
“When you know that a teammate has performed at that level,” Duesing said, referencing Maduka, “it kind of gets you to think that it can happen here. Even when it’s a different event, it becomes one of the things that falls within the realm of opportunities.”