Cornell polo was in the news before its season started, but the Red is not letting the chaos affect its expectations.
The Red’s start to the school year caught the program in the middle of controversy. An investigation regarding allegations of misconduct by former coach David Eldredge ’81 caused the legendary coach to retire, The Sun previously reported. He has been replaced on an interim basis by long-time assistant Tony Condo, who admitted it took the team by surprise.
“Obviously, that was a bit unexpected, by and large, from whole polo community in central New York, and particularly so at Cornell,” Condo said. “I think the team has handled it fairly well, considering [that] not only is the winningest coach in Cornell history removed from the ranks, but we had to start our season in the midst of all of that.”
Condo wanted to keep the team focused on the season starting with his speech before their Red and White Scrimmage three weeks ago.
“I told them, ‘This is what we’ve got. If we have any hope of any sort of success on the field this year, you have to buy into what we have this minute,’” Condo said. “Thankfully, I know all of these kids going back a lot of years, so I think they’re receptive of the idea of someone else being in charge.”
The women’s team features two opposing styles from their top two starters. Junior Shariah Harris’s physical style and classmate Anna Ullmann’s finesse play are very different, but Condo believes that they can complement each other. There is still competition for the third starting spot, between freshman Rachel Booth and sophomore Hannah Roman.
On the men’s side, returning players junior Lorenzo Masias Uranga and senior Morgan Palacios are starters this year. They are joined by sophomore Jed Cogan, a transfer from Southern Methodist. Condo said that Cogan will have adjust his game in order to adapt to his new teammates, but believes he will be a force if he can do so.
Both teams ended last season in the national semifinals, with the men falling to SMU and the women to Virginia. Despite all of the recent chaos, Condo does not want to change these high expectations.
“The expectations are, as they are every year, to compete for a national championship on both sides, men and women.”
The men opened their season with a 14-13 win against Skidmore, while the women’s team fell to Central New York Polo Club, 8-5. Both teams were looking for wins at home against George Washington University last Friday, but the Colonials cancelled at the last minute.
The Red now look forward to their first tournament of the season at the University of Virginia. In the opening round on Thursday, the men will play the University of Kentucky, while the women will play the defending national champions, Texas A&M.