March 6, 2012

TRACK & FIELD | Red Earns Championship Titles

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Just one week after suffering a disappointing loss in the Heps finals, the Red bounced back at the IC4A/ECAC finals, with Cornell bringing home championships for both the men’s and women’s track and field teams. The Red held its head high, despite falling short at Heps, and gave a strong performance over the weekend. Both the men’s and women’s teams lived up to the beliefs of men’s head coach Nathan Taylor, who said that he saw a strong sense of resilience in his team after the Heps meet.

“[This weekend was] a testament to the kids who came back after very disappointing and frustrating performances the week before to really ratchet it up and go after it again,” Taylor said.

Rather than succumb to nerves and crumble under pressure in a field of over 45 schools, sophomore jumper Montez Blair fed off the energy of such a large group, thriving on the excitement of the IC4A finals to take home the individual title in the high jump.

“When I first got there, I didn’t feel that the meet was that exciting,” he said. “There weren’t a lot of people there. As the day went on, more people started rolling in so the energy started flowing, and everything started going well. We were just so ready. Everybody was a little bummed [coming] off the Heps loss, but we jumped back. It was an awesome team win.”

Senior co-captain and heptathlete Nick Huber spoke about how important it was for him to take it all in as he competed in his last indoor IC4A finals.

“I had a lot of fun,” he said. “The whole time I was savoring the moment because I knew it would be my final indoor meet. We fed off each other, we got each other excited to compete.”

The men’s team never looked back, outscoring the second place team by 15 points en route to an IC4A team championship. Individual IC4A champions for Cornell included Huber in the heptathlon, Blair in the high jump, freshman Stephen Mozia in the shot put, freshman Rutger Admirand in the 800 and a 4×800 relay team comprised of Admirand, senior Chris Jakobson and sophomores John Schilkowsky and Eric Bice.

The women’s team had a very strong weekend, finishing as the top team in the ECAC championships, as well as becoming the first Ivy League school to win the ECACs. The Red’s sole event win came in the 4×800 relay with a team comprised of junior Liz Reamer, sophomore Lauren Lloyd and seniors Bryony Bonavita and Molly Glantz. Additionally, the Red had three runner-up performances with junior Victoria Imbessi in the shot put, junior Katie Kellner in the 5000 and senior Janel Parker in the 1000. For the women’s team, it all came down to the last event, and after concluding the meet, Cornell’s women were able to hold off second place Maryland-Eastern Shore by just one point.

Freshman sensation Stephen Mozia stepped up big for the Red this past weekend, taking home the individual shot put title — just another trophy to add to the collection of records and victories he has accumulated in his rookie season. Mozia never expected to come out and achieve what he has so early in his career.

“I can’t believe that I’m throwing this well this year,” he said. “I thought I was going to come out and throw [decently.] I thought I might place in IC4As. I didn’t really have big expectations for this freshman year, and now [I’m] going to nationals. It’s just unbelievable. I keep thinking that I’m going to wake up one day and all of this was just a dream because I honestly didn’t think I was going to be doing what I’m doing this year.”

Accompanying Mozia to the indoor NCAA Finals is Blair. The two Cornellians will head to Boise State University in Boise, Idaho from March 9-10. Blair has trouble finding the right words to describe how he feels to have the opportunity to represent Cornell at a meet this large.

“I’m stoked; I can’t even explain how excited I am to be going to nationals,” he said. “[I’m excited] to be going against guys who are just as good or better than me.”

Blair, accompanied by Mozia and Taylor, leaves for Boise on Wednesday, with hopes of competing strongly.

The rest of the team will continue to train in preparation for a spring break trip to California, which will last the entire break. Taylor, who was named the Northeast Region Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year on Monday, said he likes the trip because it allows his athletes to train and focus on their outdoor events.

“It’s mainly a trip where there’s some competition, and quite a bit of training, so the real focus is to get your feet wet in some outdoor events,” he said. “So, from that perspective, it’s critical to get people jump-started into the season.”

Cornell athletes are gearing up for a strong outdoor campaign. Like Mozia, the athletes are excited to be able to compete in their favorite events, especially those which are not present during the indoor season.

“Throwing discuss is honestly the best feeling,” Mozia said. “When you’re corked all the way back and you’re about to throw, nothing feels better. When you get one good [throw], it’s all worth it.”

After the disappointment at Heps, Huber pointed to the Red’s main rival, Princeton, as being both a team he respects, as well as a motivating factor pushing him to fight harder this spring season.

“It’s always personal between us and Princeton,” he said. “I respect them a lot, but something about that orange really makes me want to get after it and win at all costs. We’re not scared of the competition; we’re going to go after them. The bottom line is I wouldn’t trade any of our guys for any of theirs. These are the guys I want on my team. These are the guys I want to go to battle with.”

Blair has not only set his sights on beating Princeton.

“We’re going after everybody that goes against us,” he said.

Original Author: Juan Carlos Toledo