October 25, 2011

X-COUNTRY | Men, Women Set Sights on Heps Title

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In one of the most anticipated weekends of the season, the men’s and women’s cross country teams will participate in the Heptagonal championships on Saturday. The championship meet, which features all of the Ivy League schools, will be held in Princeton, N.J.It has been years since either Cornell team has won the meet, but this year the women are hopeful that they will be able to come away successful.“We’ve had this meet in mind from day one,” said junior Katie Rosettie. “It’s been in the back of our minds, and we’ve been working towards it the whole season … We’re trying to come out on top and win the meet.”Cornell’s last meet two weeks ago was the pre-national meet at Indiana, a race where Cornell placed fifth of 40 teams.“It’s one of the more competitive years [for the Ivy League]. After Indiana, people are starting to predict Cornell on the women’s side [for Heps],” said junior Katie Kellner.Yet, this year the Ivy League is shaping up to be a very close competition between several talented teams. “For the women, it’s going to be an exciting heps championship,” said assistant coach Artie Smith. “At least half the league has a realistic chance of doing very well — of being in the Top-3. We’re looking forward to having a very good meet.”Princeton has won the meet in each of the past five years on the women’s side; however, the Tigers have traditionally been made up of mid-distance track runners, as opposed to runners whose focus is the longer distance of cross country. With this in mind, Cornell is hoping that it can draw an advantage with the change from 5k to 6k this year. Yale, Dartmouth and Columbia are all also enjoying strong seasons thus far.“It’s not a clear cut duel,” Rosettie said. “Everyone needs to be on top of their game.”“We’ve had a fun and successful season so far,” Smith added. “All the hard work and training, summer and fall, is going to help them do well.”Twelve runners will compete from each team, but only the Top-5 will count for scoring. Junior Katie Kellner has consistently been Cornell’s No. 1 finisher.“There are two girls — one from Princeton and one from Dartmouth — who have been running extremely well. [My aim is] to mix it up with them, and stay with them as long as I can … and hopefully beat one or both of them,” Kellner said.Along with Kellner and Rosettie, junior Genna Hartung and sophomore Emily Shearer are expected to be among Cornell’s top finishers.“We know what we’re capable of,” Rosettie said. “It’s understood we’re a strong team, that we can come out on top. We’re just trying to go through all the little things to take care of ourselves so we’re ready to go this weekend.”“Heps is a very special meet, there’s a lot of history and tradition to this meet,” Smith added. “All of the teams really care about this meet, it means a lot to do well. Doing well would really help us — [it would be] an added bonus to a really good season.”The men’s side is also anticipating very tough competition, when the squad races at Princeton on Saturday morning.“Princeton is ranked ninth in the country,” noted men’s head coach Robert Johnson. “They’re a very, very good team … perhaps the best Ivy league team in 20 years. I can’t imagine them losing. Columbia is also nationally ranked.”The men have already seen some Ivy League competition, when they competed at the Paul Short Invitational at Lehigh. The Red placed sixth among Ivy schools, but hopes for an improved finish this time.“We’re hoping to be third or fourth,” Johnson said. “[Our runners] have been running really close together … within 10 seconds of each other. Ten seconds doesn’t sound like much for a long race, but in those 10 seconds, 10 or 15 kids will finish. It will make a big difference in team standings.”Last year Cornell finished fifth at Heps, and graduated three of its best runners. It has been up to the underclassmen to step in and take the lead this year.“Most of the guys are so close [with their times],” said Johnson. “Any of them could step forward.”Among the top pack is senior captain Chandler Kemp, sophomores Max Groves and Gabe Heck and juniors Brett Kelly and Kevin Johnson.“It has been one of the most fun years,” Johnson said. “We haven’t had one star, and it’s a good group. They learned a lot this year, and next year if one or two can emerge as a front runner, we can really be something.“Our guys are consistent. The Ivy league is one of the deepest in the country. We want to have a good meet … and we’re in a good spot. They’re running pretty well for the most part, and hopefully we dig deep and come thorough at the end.”

Original Author: Rebecca Velez