April 29, 2008

Track Wins Some, Loses Some Over Busy Weekend

Print More

Without any lag time from last weekend’s impressive performances at the Moravian Invitational and the Cortland Classic, the men’s and women’s track teams once again racked up a long list of victories and event qualifiers at this weekend’s Penn Relays in Philadelphia and the Big Red Invitational in Ithaca.
Going from Thursday to Saturday at the Penn Relays and the Big Red Invitational in Ithaca yesterday, the athletes had a busy weekend. Even with the travel difficulties, the men and women combined for numerous top-10 finishes, ECAC and IC4A qualifiers, as well as multiple event wins and NCAA Regional qualifiers.[img_assist|nid=30303|title=Just out for a jog|desc=Senior Sage Canaday competes in the 5000 meters at the 2008 Heptagonal Games in Barton Hall on March 2.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Starting on Thursday, senior Ian Ward ran an impressive PR of 9:06.36 in the 3000-meter steeplechase to qualify for the NCAA Regionals, while senior Sage Canaday placed eighth on Cornell’s all-time record books in the 10K with a time of 29:48.70. The women also fared very well with four top-10 performances — premiere showings coming from junior Marie Parks who improved her personal best by 17 seconds to 16:43.87 in the finals of the 5000 meters. Also, junior Aeriel Emig got a second-place finish in the 3000 meters with a personal record time of 9:43.18.
Friday was another big day for both teams, especially for the men’s relay teams. In the men’s 4 x 400 meter relay, the team ran 3:11.26 — sixth all-time in the Cornell record books. Additionally, the shuttle relay team managed to break a Cornell record set in 1951 — with a team that had three out of its four members go on to compete in the Olympics — with seniors Saidu Ekize and Aaron Merrill, freshman Andrew Corridore and sophomore Josh Kirkpatrick running 58.60.9 under the old record. Erik Roneker threw 55-0 ¾ in the shot-put and also placed 10th in the discus.
The women continued their streak on Friday as well with junior Jeomi Maduka leading the way — after last weekend’s Olympic A qualifying mark in the triple-jump, Maduka received another NCAA Regional qualifier with a jump of 43-0 ¾. Junior Maria Matos continued her success in the discus with a fourth place throw of 162-7.
“Improvement within the groups is all relative,” said women’s head coach Lou Duesing. “Even though they haven’t rattled a lot of cages — there haven’t been a ton of NCAA Regional qualifiers or school records — compared to what people had been doing, there have definitely been significant improvements. There have been phenomenal improvements in the middle-distance runners, especially with relay events and events where improvements of seconds make a huge difference.”
On Saturday, the focus was on great relay performances. For the men, the 4 x 400 was a stellar showing with a time of 3:11.66 for the event win and an IC4A qualifier. The women also benefitted from relay performances with the 4 x 800 for a sixth place finish of 8:52.57. After the conclusion of the Penn Relays on Saturday, the coaches had mixed reactions about the overall success of the meet.
“If you asked me [about my general reaction] on Saturday after the Penn Relays, I would’ve said that a number of the guys on the track team did very well,” said men’s head coach Nathan Taylor. “We were moderately happy with the throwers, but we were disappointed with the jumpers.”
“I think that on the men’s side — obviously I defer to Coach Taylor on this — it’s pretty much Cornell versus Penn [in the championships], and then there’s a huge drop-off,” Duesing said. “On the women’s side, not only is it three or maybe even four teams that are vying for points in many events, you also have other teams that may not figure in the overall scoring but may have a dramatic impact on what the top teams can put up in the way of points.”
Concluding the weekend on Sunday at the Big Red Invitational in Ithaca, both teams went out with a bang. Dominating the day for the men was junior Garrett Huyler, who cleared 7-2 ½ to break the Cornell record. The men also performed well in the triple-jump with sophomores Duane Texiera, 50-7 ½, and Aaron Gadsen, 59-11 ¾, both achieving NCAA qualifiers for the day. For the women, the day belonged to freshman long-jumper Kim Lienhoop with 19-4 ¾ for the fifth-place all-time record at Cornell. All in all, the Big Red Invitational put a nice cap on the athletes’ efforts.
“After yesterday’s [Big Red Invitational], now I’m pretty happy with everybody,” Taylor said, laughing. “We’re not necessarily ecstatic about how everybody did, but I think under the circumstances, we had a pretty good weekend … Yesterday, Garrett Huyler’s performance in the high-jump was just incredible — NCAA Regional, all-time in the Ivies.”
As the men’s and women’s teams close in on the championships in May, consistent improvements in personal records are becoming a must if they want to make an impact in the final leg of the season. With the 2008 spring outdoor campaign coming to a close, the track teams’ overall skill levels and their consistent commitment to performing at full strength at the end of meets are the coaches’ main goals.
“I’ve never been a big believer in the concept of momentum,” Taylor said. “We’ve been in situations where sometimes we’ve been behind and then we ran the 400-meter hurdles, which is an event where we have been really strong in the past three or four years. After that, the attitude of the whole meet can change in that event — we’re really strong in that event, with two of the top-20 guys in the country, and they push each other everyday in practice … Our team also seems to rally behind the triple-jump,” Taylor said. “We have three of the top-50 guys in the country in the triple-jump.”
“For [the track teams] to be successful … we need to know what that [championship] meet is all about and how to go about it,” Duesing said. “What I mean by that is learning how to get to the finish line, to make that sixth jump or sixth throw or sixth attempt. With that, we will be able to use that last attempt to not get passed and make a bigger impact on the competition.”