At its first large meet of the year, Cornell cross country marched onto the field of the Lehigh Paul Short Invitational on Saturday. This was a prime opportunity for head coach Mike Henderson and co. to show off the Red’s improvement and talent in front of a bigger audience.
As one of the most competitive cross country meets on the East Coast, the Lehigh Paul Short Invitational represented Cornell’s biggest meet yet. With two-thirds of the men’s team consisting of freshmen and sophomores, the Red did not have a lot of experience on a stage of this magnitude.
Both the men’s and women’s teams failed to replicate last year’s results. The men’s side came in 21st with 613 points, and the women’s side finished in 10th with 329 points. Compared to 2018’s meet in which the men ranked second and the women ranked fourth, the finishes clearly paled in comparison. Still, members from both sides expressed their satisfaction with the meet.
“[I was really impressed by the] phenomenal effort by the younger guys on the team,” said Paul Casavant, a junior captain on the men’s side who placed 183rd with a time of 25:01:0. “[It was] nice to see the young runners stepping up. [The team] has a healthy and great culture.”
Audrey Huelskamp, a senior captain for the women’s team, placed 143rd with a time of 21:35.8. She commented on the different nature of the Lehigh Invitational compared to meets from earlier in the year.
“[It was a] much faster and open course, with more competition,” said Huelskamp.
Not only did Lehigh differ in its importance, but as a 6k course, it was a much longer track compared to previous ones. Huelskamp stressed that some of the team never ran a 6k course before, and the fact that Lehigh was its first longer course was a good experience.
On unfamiliar terrain, many members on the women’s team achieved new personal records. Not only that, but the team displayed great chemistry.
“A lot of girls were working together, with bigger packs of people,” said Huelskamp.
Henderson was also very satisfied with the meet. He believes that his team managed the size of the meet very well, and this has positive implications for any other challenges that arise in the future. Still, Henderson said that the Red will definitely need to raise its sharpness and pace along with staying composed on the course.
The Red returns to the field on Saturday, Oct. 19 when a selection section of the team travels to the Pre-National Invitational in Terre Haute, Indiana, and the rest travels to Buffalo, New York for the Canisius Classic.