Following an tumultuous season, the Cornell men’s cross country team hopes the upcoming season will be one to remember for its onlookers.
“There’s a lot to look forward to,” said head coach Adrian Durant. “The team is refocused after [last year’s] Heps … we have a lot of young guys looking to be top dog … and a new coach in Mike [Henderson].”
Cornell enters the upcoming season with its disappointing performance in the Ivy League Cross Country Heptagonal Championships fresh in its mind. During that meet, the Red recorded 147 points to place sixth out of eight teams.
“[The Heps] didn’t go the way we hoped, especially with the talent we had on the team,” Durant said. “We can do much better than sixth place [and] our goal this year is to make sure … we can find ourselves in the top three.”
While Cornell had a disappointing day at last season’s Heps, Durant does not attribute the Red’s performance to a lack of talent but rather to inconsistency. Pointing to second place finishes at both the Ivy League Indoor and Outdoor Heptagonal Track and Field Championships, Durant believes that the Red possesses a roster that is able to compete at the highest level.
“We weren’t necessarily missing something,” Durant said. “A lot of our distance guys ran really well when we won second at the Indoor and Outdoor Heps and I just think we happened to underperform on that day.”
A major key to an improved team this year could be the introduction of assistant coach Mike Henderson. Henderson enters Cornell after one season at William & Mary — in which he brought a fifth consecutive CAA Championship for the school — and four seasons at Princeton.
“I really think all my past experience has brought me to Cornell,” Henderson said. “It’s a combination of having Ivy League experience, [living through] Midwest winters, and just knowing and being ready for everything that could come up.”
“He’s been around the sport for a long time,” Durant added. “He’ll bring some experience, a lot of enthusiasm, and a different perspective on everything.”
In terms of focal points, Henderson plans to spotlight two main things during practice: pack running and easing into the season.
“We’re starting to really run as a group everyday during practice so it translates well during meets,” Henderson said. “The other thing we have to focus on is being consistent with volume and intensity so that we’re not overextending ourselves too early in the season.”
In addition to the new coach, the Red will also depend on its veterans to step into important holes left by last year’s senior class.
“Every year we have big name seniors who leave … [but] I’m not too worried about that because we always have younger guys on the team who are looking to be top dog,” Durant said.
Some of the major contributors which the team will expect to step into leadership roles in the upcoming season include seniors Dominic DeLuca, Chase Silverman, Sam Chauvin and Michael Wang — all of whom had outstanding spring track seasons. In particular, DeLuca, Silverman, and senior Alexander Clapacs will serve as this year’s tri-captains.
“Some of our seniors — Dom, Chase, Sam, and Michael — had great track seasons, and we’re going to look to transfer that into cross country,” Henderson said. “In general, we have some great talent in our younger guys, but they’ve had ups and downs through their first few years [and] just had some difficulty [being consistent].”
With all the offseason and recent preparation, the Red will have its first opportunity to evaluate itself during its first meet at Columbia on Sept. 8. However, Henderson also emphasized that the team will not place too much significance on the outcome of that meet.
“The Columbia meet is kind of like a preseason [meet] and we’re not worrying too much about the outcome,” he said. “We’re really going in with two objectives: run a a group and get experience in the course we’re going to run the conference meet at.”
“There’ll definitely be a lot of nerves, but we’re all looking forward to our first meet. That’s how we’ll know know where we’re at and what direction we need to go as the season goes on,” Durant added.
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