February 23, 2011

Tait’s Example, Improvement Push Cornell

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While many of the runners who were guaranteed to run at the upcoming Ivy League Heptagonal Championships took the Marc Deneault Memorial Invitational off last weekend, senior co-captain Chris Tait used the event to set the tone for the team. On Saturday at Barton Hall, with the Deneault family in attendance, Tait placed third overall and first for Cornell in the 400m dash to earn his way into running the 400m at Heps.“It was a good sign for what’s to come for this weekend,” Tait said, referring to the Ivy League Championships scheduled to start this Saturday in New York, N.Y. at Armory Track.The Red had a great showing at the Deneault Invitational and used it as a last-minute tune-up to get ready for the culmination of a long indoor season at Heps. Senior sprinter Cody Boyd explained that the meet was a test for the athletes just on the brink of making the team and that the winners of the races would get to run the same event at Heps.“It was sort of like an intrasquad competition,” Boyd said.Tait led his race much of the way, but fell to third right at the finish line.“The last 50 meters was really tight and they just got ahead of me at the line,” Tait said.With the impressive performance, Tait was able to demonstrate the great results of working hard and never giving up. Although Tait did enter college as a long sprinter and ran the 400m often in high school, he changed to a short sprinter and focused on the 60m and 100m dashes. The experiment in freshman year did not turn out well for Tait.However, head coach Nathan Taylor saw something in Tait and changed him back to a long-distance sprinter. Tait’s transition was not a smooth one and he did not produce high results immediately, but he was eventually able to regain his top sprinting form.“In sophomore year, I went back to long sprinting and I began to work on my endurance,” Tait said. “The type of training I did was more conducive for better performances for me and the type of runner that I was.”“Over the course of the years, [Tait] started to train more with the 400m and 500m runners,” Boyd said. “And then he suddenly started to put everything together. He combined the speed in the 60m and 100m dashes with the endurance of the 400m and 500m dashes to turn in good performances.” Tait’s gradual success allowed him to work harder and fed into his self-confidence. With growing confidence and maturity, his times started to improve as well.“When you come in as a freshman, you see the older people on the team and you see what they do and what they have done. Compared to them, you’re just a freshman,” Tait said. “But over the years, I got more confident and it really showed in my races.”Because of such growth, Tait was able to become a leader on the team and was respected by the whole team. He ended up becoming a co-captain but did not rely solely on his performances to get to the position. Tait’s unforgiving work ethic forced him to practice with his teammates constantly and he was able to contribute to a great atmosphere.“I bring a strong work ethic. I apply it to every aspect of my life — whether it be a project in school or everyday at practice,” Tait said. “People look up to that and respect that as a role model.”“Every day [Tait] comes to practice with a positive attitude,” Boyd said. “Track can be very repetitive and very taxing on your body. When a teammate is bummed out or down about a recent race, he would remind them that there’s always next week and that if they work hard in practice, things will work out.”Because of these traits, not only has Tait proven to be a fine runner, but also a motivational leader. As a result, the expectations for Tait will be great this weekend.“Our expectations for [Tait] this weekend are to run well in the 400m and relay,” Boyd said. “For the 400m, we expect him to make finals and score as many points as he can. For the relay, he always runs a smart race and gives our team a chance to win.”

Original Author: Wankyu Lee