February 7, 2012

TRACK & FIELD | Teams Perform At High Level in Weekend Meets

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As the Heps finals draw close, the Red continues to build its case as a serious threat for Princeton, the defending champion. Over the weekend the men’s and women’s track and field teams competed at the Sykes-Sabock Challenge at Penn State, as well as at the Bomber Invitational at Ithaca College. The men’s team finished fourth overall, while the women finished second overall against a field including Princeton, UConn and Penn State.

Men’s head coach Nathan Taylor spoke about the high level of competition at the Sykes-Sabock Challenge.

“I thought in many events it went very well,” he said. “The high jump was terrific. It was probably one of the best [high jump competitions] outside of the NCAA championship that we’ll see all year. [Sophomore] Tommy Butler who jumped just under 6-10 was 10th in the meet.”

The high jump was one of the strongest performances collectively for the Red, as the men’s team had three IC4A qualifiers. Sophomore Montez Blair cleared 7-1.75 to finish second, senior Chris Arlinghaus cleared 6-10.75 to finish seventh and Butler cleared 6-8.75 to finish 10th.

The level of competition the Red faced was evident to many athletes on both the men’s and women’s teams. Freshman middle distance runner Rutger Admirand said he was impressed by the high level of competition.

“There were some intense performances,” he said. “[Every school] really showed up to compete.”

In addition to strong performances in the high jump, the men’s team won two events. Sophomore Steven Bell won the long jump with a jump of 23’ 9” and senior co-captain Dan Hagberg won the 60 hurdles with a time of 8.01. The men’s team also had two IC4A qualifiers in the throws, with freshman Stephen Mozia finishing second in the shot put with a distance of 57’ 8 ¼” and senior Bob Belden placed seventh in the weight throw with a distance of 58’ 8”. At Ithaca College, senior co-captain Nick Huber broke the Cornell record in the heptathlon, scoring 5,550 points, which is currently the fourteenth best in the NCAA this year and the third best in Ivy League history.

The women’s team competed strongly at Penn State, finishing second as a team and winning four events. Sophomore Rachel Sorna ran a 16:59.99 to win the 5000, junior Alyssa O’Connor ran a 4:49.00 to win the mile, senior co-captain Molly Gantz ran a 1:30.92 to win the 500 and junior Genna Hartung ran a 9:40.88 to win the 3000. At Ithaca College, freshman Corey Dowe won the mile with a time of 5:10.26 and senior Kristin Brandt won the triple jump with a leap of 38’ ¾”.

An important part of these teams’ success this season has been their group dynamic. Several members of both the men’s and women’s teams have referred to their teams as being a part of a family, finding comfort and support from their teammates and coaches.

Admirand described how being a part of this team has helped keep everyone motivated to perform.

“Everyone shows up to perform, not just for themselves, but for one another,” he said. “It’s not about letting the team down, but you feel compelled to really just do the best you can for everybody else, because they’re putting in the same amount of work that you’re putting in. You give it your all, it’s great.”

Blair pointed out the leadership of both Taylor and the seniors on the team as a major reason for the team’s success.

“Coach Taylor, he’s kind of like a father figure to me,” he said. “He’s been there to talk to, even before I committed here. The seniors, I guess you could call them like big brothers. To be honest, if I need anything they’ve got my back.”

Taylor spoke about the legacy that the seniors on this team will leave behind as a part of their relationship to this family.

“I think the nature of the leaders of the team changes every year, but I think these guys, the seniors in particular, are acutely aware of the fact that as seniors, every senior class leaves a legacy,” he said. “Whether it’s a positive one or a negative one is driven by who they are and where they see themselves in the family.”

This team will have a chance to further cement its legacy this weekend at home in Barton Hall, in what may be the last meet in which the Red’s top athletes will compete in preparation for Heps.

“This is the Kane Invitational, which is a meet named for Bob Kane who was a former national champion for Cornell,” Taylor said. “We’ll have maybe 30 schools here, but most of them will be small schools.”

Original Author: Juan Carlos Toledo