The track and field team wrapped up its final meet of the regular season prior to competing in the Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor Track and Field Championships this weekend. The Red hosted the Deneault Invitational this past weekend, allowing HEPS-competing athletes to rest up before the big meet and giving borderline athletes the opportunity to qualify for the HEPS team.
“The Deneault Invitation is a memorial to one of our former athletes,” said Women’s Head Coach Mike Henderson. “It’s really special for the team to be able to compete together one final time at home during the indoor season.”
The focus now shifts to this weekend which represents HEPS and the opportunity to walk away as Ivy League champions. This meet is the first opportunity for the Red to compete at a HEPS championship since the 2020 indoor season. Now, Cornell hopes to accomplish something special this Saturday and Sunday.
HEPS will be held on Feb. 26-27 at The New Balance Track and Field Center at The Armory in New York City. Cornell will be up against other Ivy League teams: Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton and Yale. The continued success of Cornell’s team this season, along with the strong competition, foreshadow a historic HEPS meet.
“When you look at the number of very fast performances in the league so far, I think it’ll probably be the fastest indoor conference meet we’ve ever had,” said Men’s Head Coach Adrian Durant.
Though the Red have experienced a successful season that has introduced some of the most impressive marks recorded in program history, the HEPS competition will be fierce. The men’s team is currently ranked third in the Ivy League, while the women are sitting in second, according to the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Cornell will nonetheless enter the weekend with confidence.
“It doesn’t matter where another team is ranked,” Durant said. “What really matters is that our guys get there and show up ready to compete. And that’s the energy that I’m seeing right now. We’re looking ready to go, mentally and physically.”
Beyond this final week of preparation for HEPS, the team and its athletes have been preparing for the meet all season – some even since the last HEPS meet two years ago. During the season, the Red have made the trip to New York City four times, twice to The Armory, where HEPS will be held. This has helped to establish confidence in their ability to perform when they step on that track.
“They all know what the surface is like and how to navigate the track,” Durant said. “And our kids are used to the trip to the city and overnighting in the hotels there.”
Outside of the track, Cornell also anticipates contribution from the field events.
“I feel good about the fact that we have a really well-rounded team,” Henderson said. “An important factor in being a contender is having that quality and depth in every area, and we feel good about that.”
The remainder of this week will be spent in taking the final steps to ensure that no athlete will perform poorly due to a lack of preparation. This team has been working hard for the entirety of its season, which began in December, and will finally get the opportunity to showcase that effort to the whole Ivy League at HEPS. Cornell is in a good position to secure many top-three finishers, win events and come back to Ithaca as Ivy League champions.
“I think our preparation was thorough, and I think we’ll see the results of that this weekend,” Durant said.