Despite a long, hard-fought battle at this weekend’s Ivy League Indoor Heptagonal Championships, the Cornell men and women’s track and field teams did not quite see the results they had wished for.
Both teams took their talents to the Armory in the Big Apple to seek redemption from last year’s Heps, but the men’s team could not fight off Princeton and ended as runner-ups for the second year in a row. The women’s team did not gain the momentum needed to push past the competition, resulting in a fourth-place tie.
Regardless of final ranking, men’s head coach Adrian Durant was extremely pleased with the results of his team this past weekend.
“The two biggest performances from our squad would have to be [senior] Rudy Winkler’s Ivy League record setting throw in the Weight, and [senior] Austin Jamerson setting a new Ivy League record in the Heptathlon with a score of 5,756,” Durant said. “Both athletes will be contesting their events at the NCAA Championship on March 10-11.”
Rio Olympian Winkler was the first athlete since 1953 to compete for the U.S. in the Olympics and then return to Heps, earning the 2017 indoor Heps men’s field MVP. In addition to the big performances from Winkler and Jamerson, the team also had stellar performances from sophomore James Seaton, who finished second in the long jump, as well as juniors Myles Lazarou, who placed second in the high jump, and Michael Smith, who took third in the 800m run with a time of 1:51.42.
Although a second-place finish was not the goal, the team will once again use this as a motivating factor moving into the outdoor season.
“Regardless of the fact that we didn’t get the outcome that we wanted, there were still a lot of great things that happened,” Durant said. “Just like after last year’s loss at Indoor Heps, we’ll regroup and set our sights on Outdoor Heps.”
As some team members look forward to the ECAC/IC4A Championship this coming weekend, they will use the Heps as a reminder that they need to work hard and push even harder.
“The guys are not disappointed, but are motivated,” Durant said.
On the women’s side, although the squad placed fourth, it still had many strong performances. With an overall score of 81, the Red tied with Princeton, but lost to Harvard, Penn and Columbia. Head coach Rich Bowman was pleased with performances, especially from the younger players.
“Freshman Niko Kanaris had a great shot-put, setting a three-foot personal best at 48-3 and energized the crowd and team on Sunday,” Bowman said. “This is the second-best throw in school history.”
Other standout performances came from tri-captains Taysia Radoslav and Shannon Hugard, junior Kate Gulbrandsen and freshman Brittany Stenekes. Radoslav placed first in the 500m dash, Hugard solidified a win in the 800m run, Gulbrandsen topped all competition in the high jump and Stenekes set a new school record in the 60m hurdles.
“The performances were excellent and that’s all we can ask for,” Bowman said. “Again, we can’t control what other teams do. We were a bit tentative on day one, but day two was amazing. We actually scored more points on [Day two], than any other school except eventual team winner — Harvard.”
As the indoor track season comes to an end, the women’s team has seen a lot of progress and accomplishments from the entire team when compared to the season’s inception. Now, the focus is on outdoor season.
“I’ve always felt that indoor track is only the set-up or precursor for outdoor track and field, which is ‘real’ track and field,” Bowman said.
As far as looking forward to the ECAC and IC4A Indoor Championships this Saturday at Boston University, both teams will send some of its strongest to compete. Last year at the same championships, many players stepped up and had phenomenal performances, which the coaches anticipate happening again this go-around.
The men’s team will not be taking a large group to this weekend’s competition, as those that are traveling include some athletes unable to compete at Heps. Due to Heps’ selectivity, many players had to be left back in Ithaca, so this will be their opportunity to represent the team on a large stage.
“We’ll be sending a smaller group of guys who are all eager to compete this coming weekend,” Durant said. “I’m excited to see who will step up and get us on the scoreboard.”
The women’s team is also taking a very small group to the ECAC’s, as the team is resting a plethora of athletes ahead of the coming outdoor season.
“We’ll take new freshman record-holder in the shot, Niko Kanaris, and Heps scorer in the same event Michaela Smith. Both are scorers in this past week’s championships,” Bowman said. “We’ll also bring a group of mid-distance/distance runners to continue development there.”
Action for the team spans from this Friday, March 4, to Saturday, March 5.