Record breaking performances for the men and consistently strong showings across the board for the women helped guide both Cornell track and field teams to yet another dominant weekend of competition.
On Friday, both teams sent contingents to Staten Island to compete in the Fast Track National Qualifier, where top runners shined on the all-new hydraulic banked track. Junior distance runner James Gowans stole the show in the mile, finishing in just 3:58, good for first place and a new Cornell record. Gowans’ outstanding time makes him the first Cornell runner to break four minutes in the mile. He joins a very elite group as the 459th sub-four minute mile ever recorded.
“It feels great to accomplish this feat, although it hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” Gowans said. “This was the first race where I think I was really able to get a feel for my true potential.”
Gowans also credited his teammates for his accomplishment, pointing to the supportive nature of the squad as a big factor in his success.
“The atmosphere on the team is great right now,” he said. “All the guys are super pumped and are helping each other out, and it’s awesome to be a part of that. I couldn’t do it without them.”
Head Coach Adrian Durant commented on Gowans’ performance, emphasizing that there is more to come for the talented junior.
“It was incredible and I still think he’s going to get better,” Durant said.
Senior Ben Rainero also broke a school record in the 3K with a time of 7:58, junior Tobe Attah ran the 400 in 48 seconds to win his heat and senior Max Hairston won the 60 meter hurdles. Overall, it was an extremely impressive showing for the runners.
“Those guys were ready and they were ready to run fast,” Durant said.
Back home at Barton for the Cornell Sunday Invitational, the men continued to show their dominating strength. The Red came out on top in jumps, sprints and long distance, winning eight different events throughout the day.
Particularly notable were freshman Alex Beck’s victories in both the 60 and the 200 and junior Bobby Plummer’s first place finish in the triple jump, also good for best in the league up to this point.
“The guys did really well at home … there was a lot of great energy in the building,” Durant said.
Durant also said he likes the determination he is seeing in his team as the indoor season starts to reach its critical juncture.
“They seem to be very motivated right now … this is exactly what we expected and what we wanted to see with [Ivy Championships] just two weeks away.”
With only one more event separating the Red from the Championship meet, Durant is confident and feels his team is the favorite to win the league.
“We’re going into this focused and I do think we have a very good chance to win,” he said. “Still, it all depends on who shows up that day ready to compete.”
The women’s team had another great weekend as well, with five event wins and several alterations to the school’s all-time top-10 lists.
On Friday night, the Red posted 15 ECAC qualifiers, including sophomore Jackie Katzman’s run in the 3000 — good for fifth all-time at Cornell (9:26.07) — and junior Adrian Jones’ personal best in the 200, also ranking fifth on the all-time list at 24.53.
Head Coach Richard Bowman felt he got exactly what he was looking for.
“Staten Island went very well for us with the brand new banked track,” he said. “We definitely got what we wanted in the running piece.”
Back home in Barton Hall, the women kept the ball rolling, winning five events to go along with four more ECAC qualifiers. Freshman Leena Morris had another big day as she won the shot put and placed second in the weight throw. Meanwhile, sophomore Kate Gulbrandsen leaped to first place in the high jump and senior co-captain Hillary Holmes took second in the long jump.
“Leena Morris was spectacular again in the throws, and it was good to see our captain back at it in the long jump,” Bowman said.
The Red also won three events on the track behind a 1-2-3-4-5 sweep of the mile led by freshman Gracie Todd. Also victorious were classmate Ellery Bianco (first, 60 meter) and sophomore Caroline Markowitz (first, 800 meter).
“We continue to get better each week,” Bowman said. “We really like where we’re at right now and we know we’ll keep moving in the right direction.”
The 33-person roster for the Ivy Championships is not set in stone, so this weekend’s results will play an integral role in determining it.
“Right now, everybody is competing for a chance to represent Cornell as one of those 33 select athletes,” Bowman said.