December 2, 2008

M. Track Looks to Repeat Dominant Heps Showings

Print More

The men’s track and field team will again try to defend its spot at the Ivy League summit after claiming a sixth straight outdoor Heptagonals title and fourth indoor Heptagonals title in six years. The squad will need to compensate for the graduation of “possibly the best senior class in the history of the Ivy League,” according to head coach Nathan Taylor.
“Losing that group will be a huge hole to fill,” he said.
Last year saw an outstanding performance in the indoor Heps, track’s equivalent of the Ivy Championships, in which the Red set an all-time meet record for points (205) and margin of victory (56 over Princeton). However, Cornell is looking to reload rather than rebuild, and the Red has set its sights set on another indoor Heps title.
“Track and field is not like other sports where you can change your scheme or run a different offense [after losing athletes to graduation],” Taylor said. “In track, you’ve got to have the horses, and we’ve got some guys that are real horses. We’ve got some of the best track athletes in this part of the country.”
One of this year’s top “horses” is senior co-captain Eric Roneker, who competes in shotput, hammer and discus. In addition to winning Heps last year, Roneker just missed reaching the National Indoor Championships last year in the 35-pound throw.
Taylor mentioned the jumps as one of the Cornell’s strongest areas this year. Senior co-captain Garrett Huyler established himself as one of the premier high jumpers in the nation last year en route to setting two school records. There is also anticipation surrounding former high school triple jump national champion, Gary Jones. Jones will compete in full time action at Cornell for the first time since his transfer from Arkansas.
The distance squad is another strength for this year’s squad. The team returns its entire core of distance runners, which includes senior standouts Zac Hine, Sam Luff, Andy Miller and Olympic Trials qualifier Sage Canaday. The group will also be further bolstered by the return of senior Jimmy Wyner, who did not compete last year.
Cornell overwhelmed the sprints and hurdles in last year’s Heps, but the team is missing some top performers from last year’s dominant group.
“I think the place where we are most unproven and untested is in the short sprints and short hurdles,” Taylor said.
The group is led by seniors Marcel van Eeden and Nate Crabtree with underclassmen Cody Boyd, Brian Freitas and Mike Kippins emerging as rising stars. A very strong freshman class is highlighted by two high school All-Americans — Bob Belden and Kenny McClain — who are expected by Taylor to make an instant impact.
“We had a lot of really good juniors last year that I think will step up this year,” said sophomore Nate Edelman. “We have a really good freshman class coming in, and there were a lot of freshman last year that contributed a little bit last year, but have made big improvements and will really compete this year.”