After starting their seasons with a strong opening meet against Army and Binghamton, the men’s and women’s cross country teams went up against an even greater challenge on Saturday, traveling to Hamilton, N.Y. for the Colgate Invitational. The Red faced the Colgate Raiders along with No. 15 Syracuse.
The Cornell teams ran a strong race, both finishing the day in second place overall, with the women earning 38 points overall and the men collecting 36. The Red gave a strong performance; however, each team went into the race anticipating the high level of competition that it was up against.
“Syracuse is one of the best teams in the country,” said senior captain Chandler Kemp. “Going into the race the mindset was to run well and see how we matched up against them. Really the point of this race was to get experience in a more competitive meet than the meet we had last week.”
Starting off quickly by completing the first mile in a little under five minutes, the leaders of the Cornell pack worked hard to keep up with the pace-setting Syracuse runners. In the second mile the runners began to spread out, with sophomore Gabe Heck leading the way for the Red over the next couple of miles. In the last downhill mile and a half of the course things began to pick up as sophomore Max Groves was able to create distance and finish in first place for Cornell.
“We were pretty happy with the results,” Kemp said. “The spread between [Cornell’s Top-5 runners] was 25 seconds.”
The men’s team finished second behind Syracuse, placing two runners in the Top-7. Groves finished third overall, only seconds behind competitors from Syracuse and Colgate. Sophomore Gabe Heck was not far behind, finishing in sixth.
“This race was a good sign. We ran well — better than people expected us to,” Kemp said. “It’s still early in the season and we want to run our best races in October, so the next two weeks need to be a block of good training.”
The women also finished second to Syracuse and ahead of Colgate, placing four runners in the Top-10.
“We were trying to score as closely as possible to them,” said junior Katie Kellner. “We were a lot closer in points to them this year than last year.”
“We were really excited to compete against [Syracuse] because better competition will push us,” added junior Genna Hartung. “We were expecting it to be a tough meet.”
Kellner led the Cornell runners again, finishing third overall, with Hartung six seconds behind that pace. Sophomore Emily Shearer finished eighth and freshman Marianne Collard closed out the Top-10 just five seconds behind her teammate.
“We were really excited because for this race the upperclassmen could all compare their times from last year,” Kellner said. “Almost every person who ran at this meet last year improved.”
The top five runners for Cornell averaged 21:42 for the six-kilometer course — 31 seconds faster than the squad’s mark from last year. The Red’s Top-4 runners this year finished with better times than the fastest time posted by Cornell at the last meet held by Colgate. Kellner improved by about 40 seconds and Hartung by almost a minute.
“Some people were minutes faster than last year,” Hartung said. “Everyone stepped up and raced really well.”
“Everyone did a remarkable job, and it’s impressive how much the team has improved,” Kellner added.
The next meet for Cornell will take place Sept. 30, when the Red travels to Bethlehem, Pa. to race in the Paul Short Invitational at Lehigh.
“Right now it’s taking a break from racing for a weekend and getting some good workouts in,” Hartung said. “Our team is looking really strong and we have a lot of potential to compete at bigger meets than this one.”
Original Author: Rebecca Velez