September 2, 2014

CROSS COUNTRY | Red Triple Threat: Melly, Phillips, Potts Take the Reins This Season

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This year, the men of Cornell cross country will be led by a powerhouse trio of senior captains: David Melly, Jonathan Phillips and Benjamin Potts aim to bolster the Red’s success this season with their high-energy leadership styles and wealth of experience on the track. The strong returners have already set the bar high for their teammates and for themselves.

“Our team goals are pretty similar to last year’s,” Phillips said. “We want to get top-four at Heps and we want to go to NCAA Nationals.”

According to Phillips, the key to achieving this goal will be staying motivated at all times — an attitude the co-captain already believes to be evident among the group.

“It won’t be easy to make it to Nationals because we have a very competitive region, but watching the day-to-day fire of some of my teammates, I know that we can do it,” he said. “We are a very driven group.”

Also vital to realizing these goals will be the team’s breadth, according to Melly.

“Our greatest strength is our depth, and we need to try to use that strength to improve our performance in areas where we’ve been weaker — namely, team strategy and packing up in races,” Melly said. “We want the spread of times from our top man to our fifth man to be small — hopefully under 15 seconds or so — because we are the type of team that finds success when we work together as a pack, rather than relying on one or two standouts.”

One of the biggest challenges the Red faces in securing this depth is the threat of injuries.

“In my time as a Cornell athlete, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a number of successful seasons but more recently, several defined by injury and illness,” Potts said. “In my last year as an individual, I intend, as all runners do, to improve every week, stay healthy and when the crucial meets come, perform at my best once again.

Phillips also felt the sting of injury last year and plans to help the team stop the wave before it starts this season.

“We had four guys who did not compete for the majority of the season due to injury, including our three captains, and several others — myself included — that did not compete or finish at regionals due to injury,” Phillips said. “Our team was remarkably resilient — every time someone got hurt, someone new stepped up. … But we definitely want to avoid that, and so a lot of people have been focusing on injury prevention more than before.”

Phillips cited the team’s new dedication to injury prevention as a positive reminder to take care of himself and train with a big picture mentality.

Co-captain Jonathan Phillips is dedicated to making injury prevention a priority this season in hopes of making it to the NCAA Nationals this season.(Connor Archard / Sun Senior Photographer)