In their final two tune-up events before the Ivy League Championships, the Cornell men’s and women’s track and field teams took home several individual titles and avoided injuries. Both teams sent relatively small contingents to compete at the Penn Relays and returned home to host the Big Red Invitational at the Kane Sports Complex.
The women began their week of competition on a busy Thursday at the world renowned Penn Relay in Philadelphia, Pa. Arguable the biggest American track and field event on the calendar, the Penn Relays attracts some of the best athletes around the world. ‘
In their first day of competition, a team of junior Adrian Jones, senior Udeme Akpaete, and sophomores Taysia Radoslav and Ellen Shepard placed second in their 4×100 heat, ultimately finishing in a strong seventh place in Friday’s highly competitive Championship of America final.
“The 4×100 relay was outstanding, qualifying for the Championship of America race — the first time in Cornell track history that this has happened,” said head Coach Rich Bowman.
The shuttle hurdle relay had the same results — second in the heat and seventh in the final.
The distance medley of sophomore Leah Triller, freshman Ellery Bianco, junior Libby Nolan and senior Sarah Holl impressed by placing fourth with a time of 11:52. In the 3K, freshman Eve Glasergreen set a new personal record in a fifth place run of just under 9:50, and classmate Briar Blumley took fifth in her heat and 12th overall in the 3K steeplechase. Several other Cornellians took home ECAC qualifiers in the three day event.
Overall, Bowman said he was very pleased with the way his team performed under the spotlight at Penn, and knows the ability to do so is a key skill going into Heps.
“If we are to be successful as a team in big meet situations like Heps we must have athletes that thrive on the big stage,” Bowman said “Opportunities to compete at meets such as the Penn Relays afford us the chance to feel comfortable on that big stage.”
While many of the Red’s top athletes got the day off on Sunday, Cornell still put up some big finishes at the Big Red Invitational where they competed against predominantly upstate New York schools. The cold and rainy conditions were a nuisance, but the Red still competed very well, winning six events and adding three more ECAC qualifiers in the process.
“The group has performed to the best of their abilities in adverse conditions and I’ve been proud of their efforts,” Bowman said.
In the field, sophomore Taylor Drayton won the discus and earned a spot in Cornell’s all-time top 10 in the event. Junior Kacie Hargett took first place in the javelin, and freshmen Leena Morris impressed once again by winning the hammer. Junior Gaynelle Boham won the triple jump, while senior Stephanie Izard bested the field in the high jump.
On the track, Ellery Bianco completed her busy weekend by winning the 400-meter hurdles, and junior Delphi Cleaveland took first in the 5K.
Both meets leave Bowman’s team healthy and confident.
“We have avoided any major injuries and remain healthy going into championship weekend,” Bowman said. “This weekend was a great stepping stone to what we all hope will be continued with great things happening in the upcoming championships.”
The men also sent a group to compete at the Penn Relays where they similarly had great success at the highest level, a feat that was nothing surprising to head coach Adrian Durant.
“We have some of the best athletes in the country on our squad, we can hold our own anywhere,” he said.
With events mostly on Friday and Saturday, senior Stephen Afadapa began Friday morning with a 15th place finish in the high jump. In the 4×100 meter relay, Cornell’s team of senior Ryan Hynes, sophomore Brailin Paulino and freshmen Alex Beck and Zach Menchaca placed third in their section and eighth in Saturday’s final. The shuttle hurdle relay of senior Max Hairston, juniors Wynn Curtis and Austin Jamerson and freshman Austin Lyons set a Cornell record of 57.65 seconds — good enough for first in their heat and second overall.
On Saturday, the Red’s throwers came up big against top competition. Senior Rob Robbins followed up last week’s win at home with a fourth place finish in javelin. Junior Rudy Winkler continued to dominate, taking home first prize in the hammer with a top throw of 70.59 meters. Winkler is the favorite to win the Ivy title next weekend, and his coach said he thinks there is much more to come for him.
“This is just the beginning for Rudy,” Durant said. “When your goal is the Olympic Games, everything else just becomes preparation for that. I expect many more outstanding performances from Rudy in the weeks to come.”
The men returned home to close out the regular season and also performed very well at the Big Red Invite, earning nine event wins and nine IC4A qualifiers — the male equivalent to the ECAC.
Particularly notable were Afadapa’s win in the high jump to move to third all time at Cornell, freshman Andrew Barlow’s top finish in the pole vault and junior John Enkler’s triple jump victory. On the track, senior Sam Baxter won the 1500 meter, freshman Jonathan Avery won both the 100- and the 200 -meter, and junior Jordan Sherwood won the 400-meter hurdles.
“It was an excellent weekend,” Durant said. “It’s very good preparation for our outdoor HEPS meet this coming weekend.”
Both teams but must maintain their intensity throughout the week as the rest of the Ivy League awaits. Ivy League Outdoor Heptagonal Championships begin May 7th at Princeton.