January 31, 2012

TRACK & FIELD | Squads Finish Strong in Away Meet at Armory

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With the Heps finals, which will be hosted at Barton Hall, less than four weeks away, the Red is continuing to mature and build upon the momentum it carried through the weekend. Over the weekend, the men’s and women’s track and field teams competed at an invitational meet at the Armory in New York City. The men’s team finished second overall, while the women’s team took home the team title against a field that included Princeton, Harvard, Columbia, Maryland-Eastern Shore and Delaware State.

Women’s team co-captain and senior sprinter Melissa Hewitt said she was happy with how well the women’s team performed at the meet.

“We did really well — there were a lot of personal bests, and I think we have a lot of changes to the Cornell top ten list.” she said. “We won the overall competition.”

Although the men’s team finished in second place, there were a number of strong individual performances over the weekend for the Red, according to senior heptathlete and men’s co-captain Nick Huber.

“The highlights of the meet were [when senior] Dan Hagberg, my co-captain, ran an eight-flat in the 60 hurdles, which is third all time at Cornell and the best time in the league by 15 hundredths of a second,” he said. “[Also,] Stephen Mozia, on his last throw, threw a personal best by about six inches and won the [shot put].”

Men’s head coach Nathan Taylor offered a more critical assessment of his team’s performance.

“I think there’s been some improvement,” he said. “I think the biggest thing is that there is progress in the right direction.”

In addition to the strong performances by Hagberg and Mozia for the men’s team, sophomore Peter Roach cleared 15-11 to take third in the pole vault, senior Brian Freitas ran a time of 64.71 to take third in the 500m and sophomore John Schilkowski ran a time of 4:09.57 to win the mile.

On the women’s team senior co-captain Melissa Hewitt ran a time of 24.69 to win the 200m, junior Alyssa O’Connor finished in 2:50.68 to win the 1000m and junior Victoria Imbesi broke the Cornell school record with a throw of 48.75 feet to finish second in the shot put.

Aiding the Red in its campaign to reclaim the throne as Heps champions is the team’s growing ability to perform effectively and at a high level when the stakes are high. According to sophomore jumper Steven Bell, reigning Heps champion in the long jump, going up against tough competition has no great affect how hard he pushes himself.

“For me personally, competition just helps me do that much better,” Bell said, “I don’t get nervous at all. I kind of embrace it because I find that when I jump against people who are better than me, I push myself more to be on their level.”

According to Taylor, the team is a work in progress — as it should be at this point in the season.

“I think they’re very tough,” he said. “Are they as good as they­­­ could be? No, but I think that’s part of why you have coaches and multiple contests during the season.”

Taylor said he expects his team to continue to develop mental toughness, in order to perform at the level he believes they can.

“I think honing [their mental toughness] is part of it, taking care of all of the small details,” he said. “Revolving around things like sleep, their diet and sort of paying attention to themselves internally.”

The Red will have to dig deep this weekend at the Sykes-Sabock Challenge at Penn State. Cornell will face strong competition against teams like Princeton, Harvard, Columbia, Kent State, UConn and Penn State. Hewitt expects the meet to go in the Red’s favor.

“Coming away with a win is going to be really tough,” Hewitt said. “But I expect us to do really well.”

While still a few weeks away, the Red is beginning to prepare for the Heps meet hosted at Barton Hall on Saturday, Feb. 26. Senior long sprinter Brian Freitas was very optimistic about how the team has been progressing.

“We’re showing that the seeds are finally starting to work,” he said. “As we get closer and closer to the Heps and we refine the shape we’re in, we’ll be running faster and faster. You’ll see faster times, farther distances. And we’ll be doing it in a great venue against great teams.”

According to Huber, the Red’s season is all about preparing for the Heps.

“It’s all going to come down to the Heps in Barton Hall.”

Original Author: Juan Carlos Toledo