September 11, 2009

Cross Country Teams Open Season At Familiar Ithaca Moakley Course

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Following up on the consistent momentum that they have been building over the past couple of years, the men’s and women’s cross country teams will open their seasons today against Army by hosting a head-to-head race at the Ithaca Moakley Course. With strong performances in last year’s Ivy League Heps Championships and some successful individual NCAA qualifiers, the runners are aiming to recapture the Heps title in 2009.
Nevertheless, the Red will be without some of their top runners, including junior Adrien Dannemiller, who is taking a semester abroad in Switzerland, and senior Peter Loy who is out of commission with a knee injury. However, the runners are optimistic about their 2009 campaign regardless of the obstacles that they will be facing.
“The team is obviously looking to do as well as it can by the end of the season at the conference and regional championships,” said junior Dan Cerqueira. “We have a lot of talent, but most of it is untested. We have a bunch of really talented freshmen this year, [and it is] probably Cornell’s best recruiting class ever for cross country… I’m excited about this team’s prospects, and it’s going to be a great season.”
“Our team is looking very strong,” said junior Lauren Bariexca. “We have been performing very well in our workouts thus far, given that they have been more challenging than last season… There is a lot of freshman talent, and the returning girls are really stepping up and rising to the challenge.”[img_assist|nid=37961|title=Fresh legs|desc=The cross country teams are excited to show off their freshman talent at the cross country meet today.|link=node|align=left|width=336|height=479]
In response to a strong recruiting season and a superior freshman class in terms of race talent, the runners have turned their attention to training and preparation for the upcoming season. With the added training, the teams are hoping to rise in the Heps standings and send a few more runners to nationals by the end of the season.
“With the major races not for another seven weeks, it’s best to completely focus on training,” said senior Charles Hatch. “That being said, I would definitely like to see the team place in the top-2 or top-3 at the conference meet and eventually send some guys to nationals… The key is to improve fitness right now [and] not to focus on peaking for the meet. We also only race four to five times a year, so I think it’s important to get your race day routine down to make sure you’re relaxed and prepared.”
“Right now the team’s focus is just on training, staying healthy, and getting better,” said Cerqueira. “It can be a great confidence booster if people do well at this meet.”
Many runners are using the fall as a building and self-improvement process so they can peak at the right time by the end-of-year championships. As Bariexca notes, the seniors and the freshmen all have their own individual visions and goals for their upcoming campaign.
“Everyone is very energetic and excited as we approach our first meet, and it shows at practice,” said Bariexca. “The seniors want to end their final collegiate cross country season with a bang, and the girls want to prove that they can compete among the elite runners in both our conference and the nation. We have all been training hard since the beginning of the summer and are eager to put our hard work to use.”
To ready for the race against Army, the cross country teams are looking at the match as a more formal training session. As the runners focus more internally on their own practice methods and the improvement of themselves as well as their teammates, the Red believes that this strategy will ultimately help more than worrying about who their opponent is on race day.
“This is more of a friendly match,” said Cerqueira. “We want to win, of course, but we’re focused on our own training and not what Army is doing because our training is the only thing we can affect… As long as we’ve been doing everything we should and training smart, we’ll do well no matter what our opponents do… It’s about who’s in the best shape and is most prepared on race day.”
“This first race against Army will serve as a preview of what is to come,” said Bariexca. “For freshmen, it will be their time to get over any race jitters, with this being their first race in college. For [us] upperclassmen, we will use this race to see where we are at with our training, and the coaches will be able to make any adjustments to our workouts if they see fit.”
With a proven strategy in place and a wealth of talent on both squads, the men’s and women’s cross country teams are getting into the swing of the season. Looking to continue their late-season successes from last year, the Red’s performance this weekend will signify the potential that the team really has in store.
“Army seems to get a lot better as the year goes on, where I think we start the year off pretty strong,” said Hatch. “I hope we can perform as well as last year and nab the top spots once again…hopefully we can all roll together through most of the race.”