Hard work, motivation and increasing momentum continue to drive the men’s and women’s track and field teams to success in the early stages of their seasons. This past weekend saw both squads hold their own against stiff competition in State College, PA. at the Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup.
The men finished third in a seven-school field behind host Penn State and UConn. Overall, it was another successful showing by the Red with 17 IC4A qualifiers, and junior Rudy Winkler receiving “Athlete of the Meet” honors.
Winkler won the 35-pound weight throw with a heave of just under 75 feet, easily breaking the Cornell record and solidifying his ranking of No. 2 in the nation.
“Rudy’s performance was amazing,” head coach Adrian Durant said. “His throws looked as if they were floating in the air and would never come down.”
Winkler described his own performance as “surprising.”
“Earlier in the week, I was not throwing all that well,” Winkler said. “But on that day I just felt really good and finally got everything together. … Being recognized as the Athlete of the Meet is a huge honor.”
On the track, senior Max Hairston narrowly missed first place and took second in the 60-meter hurdles. Sophomore Brailin Paulino finished fifth in the 60-meter dash, and junior Mark Tedder ran the mile in 4:03.47, good enough for second place and sixth all time in Cornell history.
In the 5K, senior Zack Israel and sophomore Sam Chauvin both set personal bests and finished in third and fourth, respectively.
The Cornell women did especially well, as they finished second with 122 points, trailing only Penn State and ahead of several strong contingents, including Ivy League rival, Princeton. Fueled by the runners, the Red won two events, took home five runner-ups, and earned points in 25 different events over the course of the two day meet.
Unsurprisingly, head coach Richard Bowman said he was pleased with his team’s performance.
“They were fantastic,” Bowman said. “We had a number of athletes step up again and do some great things.”
Last week, the coach emphasized the importance of momentum to his team’s mentality and success and knows the latest strong showing will do nothing but help keep it going.
“We really don’t want to break this momentum,” Bowman said. “Each week has been a continuation of the last, and that’s ideal.”
The women got off to a great start on Friday night with a win in the distance medley relay, anchored by sophomore Jackie Katzman who overcame a three-second deficit to propel the Red to the victory.
Saturday featured more success on the track. Senior Kristen Niedrach won the mile in under 4:53, and teammate and co-captain Caroline Kellner finished in third less than two seconds behind her teammate. In the 200-meter, the Red took second, third and seventh and senior co-captain Udeme Akpaete took second place in the 400-meter.
“Right now we’ve got different groups stepping up and doing great things,” Bowman said about his team’s performance. “Hopefully in a few weeks it will all come together.”
With Indoor Ivy League Championships approaching at the end of the month, Bowman and the rest of the team are excited for everything to click all at once, and they know they will need it to in order to capture a championship.
Both the men and women will compete this weekend in Staten Island, N.Y. on Friday and back home in Barton Hall on Sunday, looking to build on recent weeks as the Ivy Championships begin to loom.
“This is [the] final push to get sharp and to prepare to battle it out for the Ivy Championships right here at home,” Durant said.