Just over two months ago, the Cornell men’s track and field team’s indoor season ended in disappointment. The Red had been favored to win the Ivy League, but a talented and determined Princeton team came into Barton Hall and left the Cornell fans with little to cheer for. This Saturday, Cornell looks to conclude its outdoor season on a higher note and get some payback against host and defending champion Princeton.
Princeton and Cornell have developed a strong rivalry in Ivy League track — the teams have finished 1-2 in every meet since 2002 — and the most likely winner come Sunday will either be the Red or the Tigers. Although head coach Adrian Durant deemphasized it, the quest for payback after the February defeat may give Cornell some added motivation.
“Losing at home was a bitter pill to swallow,” Durant said. “I’m not saying that we’re out for revenge, but any team in our type of competitive rivalry would want a little payback.”
So far this outdoor season, Cornell has had great success. Beginning with its spring break trip to compete in California to this most recent weekend at the Penn Relays, the Red has been up against top competition and should be ready for the big stage. Although most meets have been unscored, many individual times/distances rank quite favorably in the Ivy League.
Cornell’s 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams rank first and second thus far in the league, respectively. Junior Austin Jamerson is the heavy favorite to win the decathlon as he did in the previous Ivy championships, and he has a good shot in the long jump as well. Classmate Bobby Plummer currently ranks second in the triple jump as one of four Cornelians in the top six in that category.
The Red will also look to shine in the throwing events. Junior Rudy Winkler currently sits in first in the Ivy League and second in the entire NCAA in the hammer throw — he even has a shot at the Olympics. Senior Rob Robbins, who just recently from a two year absence due to injury, threw a javelin 234 feet, good for first in the league.
Several other Red athletes expect big meets this weekend, like sprinters junior Tobe Attah and senior Max Hairston. However, regardless of the pre-meet rankings, Cornell will need to stay focused and give it their all in each event.
Durant said he expects no less.
“My expectation is for our guys to go out there and compete as hard as they can,” Durant said. “I expect them to fight and to put it all on the line.”
He also said he knows that while individual performances are what count, each athlete must put the team first in order to find success.
“Winning Heps is always a team effort,” he said. “From diving across finish lines, to clapping for jumpers on the runway, to cheering for the 4x400m relay, it takes a team effort to come home with a championship.”
Cornell’s coaches have been urging their team to embrace an underdog-like mentality, even though some have pegged them as the favorites to take home the trophy.
“While I do think that we’re confident going into heps, we’re still the underdogs going into this weekend,” Durant said. “If we want to be HEPS Champions, we’ll have to fight for it.”
Despite this game plan, when Durant was asked if he’d settle for anything less than first, he was quick to respond otherwise.
“No… We were not satisfied with second after indoor Heps and we wouldn’t be satisfied with second this time around either,” he stated. “If you go into a competition with doubt in your mind, then you’ve already lost. We’re going to Princeton to win this weekend.”
Competition will begin on Saturday at 10 a.m. and should conclude around 5 p.m. Sunday afternoon. All events will take place in Princeton’s Weaver Stadium.