August 31, 2011

X-COUNTRY | Kemp, Johnson Lead Eager Runners at Start of 2011

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Senior captains Chandler Kemp and Meghan Brown lead the Cornell cross country team this year. Both are four-year varsity athletes, hoping to continue the success of Cornell’s men’s and women’s clubs. Captains play a crucial role in such a mentally-demanding sport on the team, and with this year’s roster composed mainly of younger runners, strong leadership will be imperative to the team’s success.“We’ve been very good over the past few years because we’ve had great senior leaders,” said women’s coach Artie Smith. “We’re only going to be as good as our seniors.”Training for both teams began last Wednesday on the first day of classes, yet the athletes have been training all summer for the beginning of the season. “We started off the season with a time trial and that went really well,” Kemp said. “It showed we’re in shape to get in shape — we’re ready for hard workouts.”Kemp is the lone senior on the men’s side, as the team graduated its top three runners last year; however, he has shown the ability to lead and make this potentialy another great season for Cornell.“[Kemp is] the embodiment of what we need,” said men’s head coach Robert Johnson. “He worked really hard this summer. He ran a lot … and on the first hard workout he crushed everyone. Everyone respects him, and he leads by example.”The talent on the men’s side lies mainly in the junior class — runners who until this year have remained in the shadow of the upperclassmen. “Now they have to step up. I think they’re capable,” Johnson said. “They’re pretty even as far as times … We only need five or six guys to rise to the occasion and come through for us, and so far Chandler has done that.”Kemp’s attitude will have a big influence on the direction of the team this year. With a solid and responsible leader as an example, the team hopes younger runners will follow suit with their work ethic.“I want to convey a love of the sport, excitement to race well and train well and put it all out there,” Kemp said. “We’ll perform and train at our best, without fear, but with joy.”On the women’s side, Brown has already proved herself as a reliable team captain.“In the first week she’s demonstrated that she will be a very good senior captain,” Smith said. “[She considers] what else we can be doing outside of running to make sure we’re improving — she’s making sure we’re taking care of ourselves. She’s a captain that will look out for the whole group.”“The girls do a really good job of pumping themselves up — I want bring the element of fun into it,” Brown added. “This is what we do for fun, and I want to make the girls want to do it more and keep them dedicated.”Along with morale boosting, Brown has been a consistent runner on the team and one of the reliable scorers.“Her running is going very well,” Smith noted. “The seniors did a great job this summer getting ready for this season.”The women are anticipating a successful year, with juniors Genna Hartung, Katie Kellner and Kelsey Karys already showing their potential. Hartung holds the record for Cornell’s home course, a time she achieved as a freshman, with Kellner and Karys not far behind. Expectations are also high for sophomore Devin McMahon, who qualified for the national championships last year. “There are people here who aspire to be at the top of the Ivy League,” Smith said. “If they’re improving from day to day those things will take care of themselves. We have an accomplished group, and if they improve a lot they can do some great things.”The team aspires to be in the Top-3 at the Heptagonal Championships in October, and then eventually hopes to send more runners to nationals.“This team has gotten incredibly better,” Brown said. “The seniors have seen the transformation. In the recent past we haven’t been in the top three at Heps, so we’re definitely looking forward to changing that. If we run the way we’ve been running, it’s definitely in the cards.”

Original Author: Rebecca Velez