March 12, 2013

TRACK AND FIELD | Three Compete at NCAA Finals

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Three of Cornell’s best athletes had the honor this past weekend of competing in the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Finals meet, hosted by the University of Arkansas. Representing the women’s team was junior distance runner Rachel Sorna, and for the men’s team was sophomore shot putter Stephen Mozia and junior high jumper Montez Blair.

Sorna finished in 11th place in the 5K and Blair and Mozia each also finished 11th in their respective events. Blair commented on how strong the high jump field was at these NCAA finals.

“This indoors was ridiculous,” he said. “A lot of people [in high jump] set personal records. I didn’t do poorly, but I didn’t do as well as I could have. They raised the bar pretty high for All-American standard. I went in there to have some fun, it was exciting.”

Blair was also quick to mention that the athletes who compete are honored with some perks.

“We had a banquet,” he said. “This year, I won the athlete of the year award, so it was cool to stand up there on stage in front of some of the best athletes in the country. The atmosphere was awesome. Everyone seemed so positive about competing. They had more fun.”

Men’s head coach Nathan Taylor spoke about how his team and other teams like Cornell, do not always get the respect that the teams deserve in these environments.

“It’s always nice to be recognized to accomplish some things at a pretty high level,” he said. “I think the BCS schools don’t really have a lot of respect for the Ivies. They’re trying to create a subdivision within division one for track and field. Some of them don’t want Cornell at the NCAA finals. I like going to this meet and doing well.”

With the indoor season now wrapped up, the next step for the Red is to transition into the outdoor season. The way Cornell has traditionally done this is by taking a trip to the west coast, both training and competing in California during spring break. Women’s head coach Rich Bowman noted that the weather in California is a great way to transition.

“I think this trip has always been great,” he said. “The weather on this coast when we start the outdoor season in April isn’t always that great, so we’ll see some great weather in California. It’s really the perfect segue into the outdoor season.”

Weather was a common theme in interviews, as Taylor also noted that good weather helps transition into new and different events for the outdoor season.

“Some of the events change significantly [between seasons] … So it’s important to get some repetitions in those events in particular. Weather is so unpredictable here that the California weather may be the best we see all season. Getting used to the differences of being outdoors is crucial.”

Blair added that the trip is a great way to reconnect with alumni, as well as to sample different kinds of food that is otherwise unavailable in Ithaca.

“We’ll get to see some of our alumni out there,” he said. “See some of the sights in Cali, as well as eat at restaurants we don’t have here. And seeing the sun is probably going to be the best part of it.”

Bowman was appreciative of having the opportunity to take this trip.

“I think it’s going to make us better all the way around,” he said. “We’re really appreciative of the administration for allowing us to have this opportunity.”

Original Author: Juan Carlos Toledo