The Cornell men’s and women’s cross country teams are set to compete in the Paul Short Run at Lehigh University as the days tick down from Saturday Oct. 1 until the Ivy League Championships at the end of the month.
With both teams coming off second and first place finishes in their previous outings, respectively, Cornell hopes to continue building momentum in this competitive run that features several other Ivy League opponents along with other division one, two and three opponents.
The women’s team placed first for the second year running at the University of Rochester Yellow Jacket Invitational, with senior tri-captain Taylor Spillane and junior Jackie Katzman finishing in the top three for the six-kilometer race. Associate Head Coach Artie Smith attributes his team’s consistently strong performances to their training and preparation.
“Our training has been excellent this fall,” Smith said. “ We’ve seen some impressive gains not just from a year ago, but in the first month that we’ve been back at practice.”
The men’s team is coming off a second place finish at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational, finishing 67 points ahead of the likes of No. 7 Georgetown and only behind current No. 2 Syracuse. The pack of five scoring runners was led by junior Dominic DeLuca, who finished 10th overall, and 17.3 seconds and seven places in front of junior Chase Silverman.
However, despite their strong performance, men’s head coach Zeb Lang believes the Paul Short Run will provide a better assessment of just how far his team can go.
“Georgetown didn’t run six of its top runners [in the Harry Groves run], so I’d say they are still favored to win [the Paul Short Run] again this year,” Lang said. Additionally, the size of the field at the Paul Short Run is approximately 300, almost double that of Harry Groves.
The team has had three weeks to train in between the two runs, and according to DeLuca, it has allowed the team to work on their weaknesses.
“There was a really big move in the first race,” DeLuca said. “A lot of the top guys in the race took off and I didn’t respond the way I wanted to respond. During training, DeLuca now ramps up his pace toward the end of a workout, to mimic the race.
The Paul Short Run permits 10 runners in the Gold Division, while the rest race in the Open Division along with post-graduate athletes and unaffiliated runners. Even though there is no team scoring in the open division, Lang believes it is vital to help him select his 12-man roster for the Ivy League Championships.
“It’s for logistical reasons, to limit the size of the field, that we only get 10 runners this time around,” Lang said.
Smith appreciates being able to field 10 runners in the Gold Division, as he said it gives the team the luxury of having a lot of potential scores.
“I think the women on the team view this [setup] as having a lot of ‘interchangeable’ parts,” Smith said. “They can each contribute to our success in different ways and so many of them have the capability of stepping up and scoring that we could have a different top seven every week.
With only three runs left until the Ivy Championships, the women’s team sees the Paul Short Run as a great opportunity to work on work on racing skills and tactic that will help them later in the season.
“We only get to run this great meet once a year and so we want to take advantage of it as best we can,” Smith said. “If we do that then we will get a lot out of this weekend to propel us to future successes.”