April 2, 2013

TRACK & FIELD | Back From Cali, Red Set to Host Oxford, Cambridge

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After a trip to California, many Cornell track and field athletes had the opportunity to take the weekend off, while others who had yet to compete raced either at Stanford or at Ithaca College this past weekend.

Men’s head coach Nathan Taylor said that it was a chance for those athletes to finally compete in the outdoor scene.

“The Ithaca College meet was a chance for guys who haven’t competed to get out and run,” he said.

Both the men and women posted some strong individual performances in the meets this weekend. On the women’s side at Stanford, the distance runners were especially solid. Junior Rachel Sorna placed second overall in the 3000 meter steeplechase with a time of 9:52.58. In the same event, senior Genna Hartung ran an 18-second seasonal best to finish in 11th place.

In the men’s 10K, senior Brett Kelly set a 10-second personal best, finishing in 17th with a time of 29:14.85. This strong finish moves him into No. 4 all-time at Cornell in the event, sliding him past Cornell Hall of Famers Grant Whitney ’86 and Pete Pfitzinger ’79.

Up next for the Red on Apr. 6 is a meet that is traditionally held once every four years. In the spirit of international competition, the Red will combine with Penn to compete against a team made up of Oxford and Cambridge. Next time, Cornell will return the favor by visiting the UK, allowing for intermingling of the various squads involved, according to women’s head coach Rich Bowman.

“It’s only done once every four years,” he said. “We combine with [Penn] against a combined Oxford/Cambridge meet. It’s a scored meet in which the only athletes who score are the winners of the events. It’s a great chance to meet the Oxford/Cambridge kids because we get to go over [to England] next year, so we can renew acquaintances.”

Taylor said it is an interesting meet for his team, considering the Red is paired up with a team that is normally considered a rival.

“It’s a unique meet to compete with one of the teams you usually compete against,” he said. “I think Penn is the most similar Ivy League school to Cornell. It’s unique to be able to go against Universities from other countries. There are a lot of international athletes in track and field in the United States. This is a long storied match between the four schools that dates back to the formation of the Heptagonal league.”

Taylor added that one of the highlights of this exchange is the traditional sit down dinner that occurs between the teams.

“We have a big sit down dinner to commemorate the exchange and the length of the exchange,” he said. “We’re coming up on 80 years, and I hope to be around to see the 100th anniversary of the exchange.”

With only four more weekends to compete before the outdoor Heps finals hosted by Penn May 4th-5th, Bowman spokeabout how this meet is yet another part of the journey towards the championship part of the season.

“I think it’s just one step in the way to get to the top of the stairs,” he said. “It’s not something we want to skip over at all. There’s a limited amount of meets we can have outdoors, so we have to do well.”

Taylor is also looking at this meet as one that will help prepare his team for the championship part of the outdoor season. After a strong showing in California, he is patiently waiting to see if his team can build off its success.

“I’m anxious to see their level of competition now that they’re back home,” Taylor said. “I want to see if they can walk right back into it after competing so well in California, and continue to move along.”

According to Taylor, regardless of the unique circumstances of the meet, the individual athletes can still help their chances of competing during the championship part of the season.­­­

“Any time there’s a stopwatch or a tape measure, you can improve your opportunity to get to the NCAA championships, and of course [prepare] for the Heps,” he said.

In an often intense historic relationship between Britain and the United States, Taylor is satisfied that in some way this meet continues that tradition.

“It’s nice that we can continue to keep the old rivalry alive,” he said.

Original Author: Juan Carlos Toledo