April 26, 2010

Track Qualifies for ECAC, IC4A at Penn Relays

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In the 116th running of the legendary Penn Relays, the Red had a number of standout performances. In an event that featured thousands of high school, collegiate and professional runners, jumpers and throwers, certain Cornell athletes stepped up under pressure while others faltered. The women won two championship wheels at the Penn Relays and had ten ECAC qualifiers, while the men had a pair of second place finishes and twelve IC4A qualifiers. “Our performances were a little bit of a mixed bag. Some of the guys got a little anxious,” said men’s head coach Nathan Taylor. “Some guys went out a little too hard because they were anxious and wanted to prove themselves. Other guys went out too easy because they were anxious and thought that other big schools were better than us.” Despite early nerves, the men turned in some fantastic performances. Senior Josh Kirkpatrick placed second in the decathlon with a score of 6,836. Kirk­patrick’s performance was second best in school history and an IC4A qualifier. In the steeplechase, junior Adrien Danne­miller placed second in the championship section, running an IC4A-qualifying 8:56.24. Senior Duane Teixeira excelled in the championship long jump, leaping to the second best mark in his career, 25-4 3/4 to place third overall. According to Taylor, Teixeira’s performance was one of the highlights of the meet. Teixeira was in first place going into the final jump, but was eventually beaten by only the current national indoor champion and the NCAA runner up last year. Teixeira beat out seven other NCAA finalists in finishing third.  In the 4×400, the Red women won the Heptagonal race for the eighth time in nine years, running a season-best 3:41.43. The team was led by sophomore Kelsey Reimnitz (56.7) and seniors Megan Williams (55.9), Kate Backel (53.8) and Jess Weyman (54.8). Junior Cassie Schweighofer placed third in discus, topping the ECAC standard with a season-best 155-5. In the women’s 3000, freshman Kelsey Karys ran well to easily best the ECAC standard. Karys’ 9:43.34 broke the freshman record of Laura Woeller ’95 to place fourth. The quartet of sophomore Melissa Hewitt, junior Mecha Santos, senior Jessica Weyman and junior Kim Standridge in the sprint relay medley turned in one of the Red’s best performances. The team finished second behind only the three-time defending champion L.S.U. Tigers and earned a Penn Relays wheel as the top ECAC squad. Their time of 3:52.86 ranked third all-time in school history. Despite many good performances, some runners did not adjust to the atmosphere as well as others. Some athletes fell victim to nerves that naturally come with meets that feature some of the top athletes in the world, including Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt. Competing against national powerhouses such as Oregon, Stanford, L.S.U. and Tennessee distracted some runners. However, women’s coach Lou Deusing believes the team won’t face the same pressures in the championship meets toward the end of the season. “Some people weren’t prepared for it,” Duesing said. “You’re competing against schools literally across the country, and that can be intimidating. It’s hard for them to really get in and get after it, whereas in the Heps and ECAC you know those people and have run against them so you have a much better feel for where you stand.” While the Penn Relays are a very high profile meet, the Red’s participation was still geared towards preparing athletes for the championship meets later on in the season. Facing this type of competition, according to Taylor, prepares the athletes much better than the less competitive meets they had been competing in. “These really big meets magnify your weaknesses,” Taylor said. “It’s a huge challenge and it magnifies mistakes that you make or weaknesses that you have in your psychology or your preparation for competition. That’s a good thing because you come back next weekend and learn more about what you need to do to perform your best.” Whether successful or not this weekend, both coaches hope that the athletes who competed came away with more experience and more confidence that they can take into the championship meets.   “Sometimes you go to a meet like this like a tourist,” Duesing said. “You hope that people walk away from that experience with a sense that they can play in this game and are looking forward to coming back. Individuals that didn’t respond well to the situation have or are learning from it because they live what they do and they love what they do and they want to do it as well as they can.”

Original Author: Jimmy Xi