The Red took first place in both of the season’s first two scored meets. At Harvard’s Beantown Challenge, the Red placed first out of 10 teams with 130 points, 28 more than second place Harvard and 62 more than Ivy rival Brown.
Last Saturday, the Red also placed first at Cornell’s Upstate Challenge with 294 points, 171 more than second place Binghamton, downing other upstate rivals Colgate, Cortland, Ithaca College and Syracuse.
Head Coach Artie Smith ’96 attributed his team’s success to his “very hard working athletes,” “young and driven group of assistant coaches” and Barton Hall, which underwent a $3.6 million renovation in 2016 to provide a facility large enough to house all aspects of NCAA competition under one roof. Smith said that not many teams are lucky enough to have a facility with an indoor track where the whole team can practice together in the same room.
The team also benefits from its leadership, Smith said.
“I like to think that we the coaches set a tone that builds a team environment, but the four captains Briar [Brumley,] Niko [Kanaris,] Jinjer [Pearce and] Annie [Taylor] have been great. … Barton Hall is great because it provides an indoor space for the throwers, runners and jumpers to work together.”
Smith said the team’s strength is its consistency in all events.
“One of the hallmarks of this team is that whether in the throws, the field events or on the track, we have very good people in all areas of the sport,” he said.
The team’s goal this season, as always, is to win the Ivy Heptagonal Championships in May.
To do that, the team needs to be strong in all areas. Smith said that while some programs focus on “just one event group” — the track, the throws or the field events — “…we focus on being good across the board.”
Smith, also the head coach of women’s cross-country, specializes in coaching middle and long distance runners. He depends on assistant coaches to lead the team’s 85 athletes in each diverse area of the sport. Justin Byron leads women’s sprinters and hurdlers, Nate Arnold leads men’s and women’s jumpers and Kevin Phipps leads men’s and women’s throwers.
Athletes returned to Ithaca three weeks ago to start the Spring season.
“They worked very hard the last couple weeks,” Smith said. “People committed to coming back early and practicing twice per day. It was a great way to build team camaraderie because there were no classes.”
Smith hopes to keep athletes as healthy as possible to build on the team’s momentum.
“The whole team is performing at the highest possible level,” Smith said. “I am thrilled with the effort. People’s health is usually on the edge when they push their bodies to perform like this, especially in winter.”
The Red will compete this weekend at the National Invitational in University Park, Pennsylvania.