Fresh off a strong showing at the Penn State Open, the Red will host Northeast foes Buffalo, Colgate, Cortland, Ithaca College and Syracuse in the Upstate Challenge, the Red’s first scored meet of the season. However, the Red is looking at this meet just like any other.
“What our record may be going into the Championship part of the season really doesn’t matter, what matters is are we ready to go at that time,” women’s head coach Lou Duesing said. “If you’re going to be ready at that time you need to be doing the right things along the way, whether it is a scored meet or not a scored meet.”
[img_assist|nid=34273|title=The home stretch|desc=The men’s and women’s track teams return to Barton Hall for an Upstate faceoff with Syracuse, Ithaca College, Buffalo, Colgate and Cortland.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
On the women’s side, depth will play a large roll this weekend. In an effort to prepare and develop for the championship meets down the road, many athletes will be competing in events that the coaches feel will help them later in the season. In many cases, this leads to a number of women competing in events that aren’t necessarily their best.
“It could be our best milers not running the mile and its because … they may be doing something else that’s going to help them be a better miler when the championship part of the season rolls around” Duesing said. “We don’t enter a meet to win the meet. We enter the meet to do what’s best for the people we have in terms of their development and getting ready.”
The men’s team is incorporating a similar approach. The men were back early from winter break practicing twice a day while many Cornellians were relaxing. This rigorous training schedule highlights a vision for a strong finish to the season, but may make the season tougher.
”I think they’ll be excited to have a meet. But at the same time,” said men’s head coach Nathan Taylor. “they’re going to be tight and sore and not at their peak and they know that. It’s nice to win. If it’s scored, it’s nice to win, but our focus is still on what we do a month from now.”
Track and field is unique in that performance during the regular season doesn’t generally affect postseason eligibility. Track athletes need to qualify individually for the post season. With that, these meets are important stepping stones in Cornell’s effort to run well in the championship season.
“Fortunately we’re in a sport where we can do that,” said Taylor. “We don’t have to win. It doesn’t do anything to win meets week-in and week-out. It’s nice, but it’s not critical.”
When asked how to describe this forward thinking preparation, Taylor kept it academic: these meets as quizzes, used as confidence boosters for the final exam, the championship meets.
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