In a final meet before the start of the Heps, both the Cornell men’s and women’s cross country teams will be looking to finish their regular seasons strong in the 31st Annual John Reif Memorial Run in the friendly confines of Ithaca on Friday.
The home meet for the Red holds a special place in the hearts of the runners and coaches who participate. The run is in memorial to John Reif ’86, a former member of Cornell cross country program who died in a car accident in 1987 while training for a triathlon shortly after graduating from Cornell.
The meet is also a chance for the teams to have their final race of the season before Heps next week. For women’s head coach Artie Smith ’96, two goals are in his head: final adjustments ahead of Heps and getting those who not traveling to the next weekend’s championships a positive final experience during the season.
“It’s a fine-tuning thing as there’s still stuff for people to work on,” Smith said. “[And] most people who are racing this will be their last race … [and] their chance to kind of close out the season. Whether it’s a benchmark as [the athletes] look ahead to track or a benchmark ending the cross-country season, it’s a good landmark for people in the course of their year.”
This weekend will present the team an especially golden chance to experiment before Heps because, unlike other meets in the competitive season, the Reif Run will not be scored.
“It’s a really fun atmosphere and we’ve found that even though we aren’t scoring [the meet] it does bring the team together in a new way,” Smith said.
While the field of Friday’s meet will be small, there are a number of strong teams expected to attend, including the No. 4 Syracuse men’s team, and SUNY Cortland.
As is the case with the Red, the teams will be running the lower half of their roster, while giving their top-scorers a chance to rest before next week’s championships.
“There’s a big conference meet next week where everybody is all in on the scoring and this [meet] really … leaves out the team part so that people can focus on their own race,” Smith said of the reason to not score the meet. “And yet when [the athletes] race it’s one of the more fun environments that we have because … we have a large group of people that come every year.”
Both Cornell teams competed in the Penn State national open last week, where the men placed fourth and the women placed fifth. With this being the last in-season meet for the Red going into Heps, a portion of both the men’s and women’s teams will finish their season this Friday. Due to a limited number of spots, not all of the athletes will get to travel to the championships.
For the athletes who will have their final races on Friday, Henderson has advised them to, “just keep our routines and keep what we’re doing. We talk a lot about not overthinking it. Do what got you here, execute the way that you know you can and things will work out.”
Both the men and women will run separate 5K races on Friday, a change from the past years as the men normally run 5 miles. The competition will kick off at 4:30 p.m. at the University’s Moakley Course on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course.