March 28, 2008

Men’s Harriers Led By Talented Seniors

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The spring track season is here: packed with more natural skill and talent than in recent memory, the men’s track team is setting its sights on a memorable finish to the year in these last three months.
Starting in March, the men boasted several NCAA and IC4A regional qualifiers, boosting their status as one of the elite varsity teams this year on campus and in Cornell history.
March seems to be promising: starting the month at the Heptagonal championships in Ithaca, N.Y., the men dominated the rest of the Ivy League conference competition, taking a 205-point victory and beating out second-place Princeton by 56 points. The Red won on the strength of nine event wins, seven second-place finishes and three NCAA qualifiers.
Coming off of an emotional high at the Indooor Heps, the men then traveled to the IC4A championships in Boston. Their performances remained exemplary, with a new Ivy League record and IC4A title for the 4×400 team and a 12th-place overall finish.
As a result of their efforts, two Cornell men were elected to participate in the NCAA Indoor championships on March 14 and 15: senior Muhammad Halim, with his third straight NCAA appearance for the triple-jump and Saidu Ezike for the 60-meter hurdles.
More highlights came recently at the CSU Northridge Invitational and the UC Irvine Classic: most notably, senior tri-captain Aaron Merrill broke a 55-year-old record for the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 51.04 seconds.
At Irvine, the men managed to gather 13 combined event wins, 50 top-5 finishes, six NCAA qualifiers and 27 ECAC/IC4A qualifiers in only a two-day meet.
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, the men have a packed schedule. They will start off early April at the Quaker Invitational in Philadelphia on April 5, traveling to the Sea-Ray Relays, the Bucknell Invitational, the Cortland Invitational, the Moravian Invitational and the Penn Relays all by the end of the month.
They will finish up a sparse May and June with the Cornell Outdoor Invitational on May 3 with Heptagonal, IC4A and NCAA championships following.
Top performers for the Red men span far and wide on the team — the main leaders are seniors Aaron Merrill, Adam Seabrook, Saidu Ekize, Muhammad Halim and Michael Smayda.
They have been especially effective in past years and so far this season.
Aaron Merrill has been an essential part of the squad, centrally contributing to the success at the Indoor Heps, CSU Northridge, and UC Irvine, while making a profound impact on the Cornell record books in his signature race — the 400-meter hurdles.
Adam Seabrook is also a senior co-captain and is coming off of an incredible 2007 season. At the Indoor Heps, he won his second Ivy League title in the 4×400 relay, while finishing second in the 400-meter with a 47.85 — a new indoor school record.
He also contributed greatly to Cornell’s victory in the IC4A title — the first in 50 years — sparking a spectacular 3:11.13 time in the 4×400 relay.
Among other notables, Halim and Ekize are traveling to the NCAA Indoor Championships for the triple-jump and the 60-meter hurdles, respectively.
Michael Smayda also has been integral to success: as a junior, Smayda placed third in the 800-meter at the Indoor Heps, with a time of 1:51.92, fourth all-time at Cornell.
He also helped to win the IC4A-title for the indoor 4×800 team last year.