Cornell Athletics

Senior Perry Mackinnon runs the 10,000 meter event in 28:33, breaking the school record.

April 10, 2023

Mackinnon Smashes 10k School Record at Stanford Invite, Men’s Distance Squad Trending Upwards

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The Cornell men’s distance squad showed up in force on April 1 to the Stanford Invite, one of the biggest meets in the country.

Leading the charge was senior Perry Mackinnon in the second heat of the 10,000-meter event last weekend. Mackinnon won his heat and beat many athletes in the heat above him with a time of 28:33, breaking the previous 29-year-old school record by nearly 27 seconds.

“I just knew during the warmup that it would be a good day for me. I’ve done enough of these races to know when I feel that good on the warm up that it’s going to be a good day for me. But I guess you always take it with a little grain of salt and you’re never 100 percent sure,” Mackinnon said. “But after the first five, ten laps, I knew that I was in for a really good day. I just felt super smooth, very relaxed — I wasn’t forcing at all.”

Mackinnon split 14:32 through the opening 5000 meters and ended in a massive negative split of 14:01, closing down the last 400 meters to outkick California Baptist University’s sophomore Valentin Soca by 61 seconds. 

“I felt like a million bucks. With ten laps to go I was thinking about a little celebration across the line if I won, because I was pretty confident I could win,” Mackinnon said. “Just judging on how I felt and what I could see around me I thought, ‘I got this in the bag.’” 

Mackinnon’s time would have been fast enough to finish 21st in the top heat, beating out nine of the heat’s athletes and priming Mackinnon for the opportunity to be seeded into much faster races later in the season.

“I think I could’ve really benefited from being in the faster heat, because I think there was a much faster time in my legs that day,” Mackinnon said. “I’m pretty confident in saying there’s at least a good 10-15 seconds I can go get. That would put me in the low 28:00s, which should put me in the first heat. Now that I ran that time… I want to be in those first heats and be given the same opportunity as the other guys.”

The Red performed well throughout the entire invite, with sophomore Damian Hackett running the second-fastest 1500 meter in school history with a time of 3:41, followed by junior Rhys Hammond at 3:43. Junior Rishabh Prakash also opened his season with an impressive 13:59 for the 5000-meter event. 

“Seeing this program during my four years at Cornell from when I was a freshman to today, we’ve made leaps and bounds forwards. We’re a much more competitive program than when I first came in, and it’s just very rewarding to see all my teammates perform well across the board, taking down old school records and beating their personal records,” Mackinnon said. “It’s fun to see the whole team just leveling up and our program improving in general… Everyone’s performing well and everyone’s raising the bar.” 

Mackinnon attributes the success to Coach Mike Henderson’s influence over the past few years, as well as the strong team culture and camaraderie. 

“[Coach Henderson] is relatively new to the program. It was only his second year when I came in,” Mackinnon said. “As a coach, he’s been very composed and patient with us, slowly building us and not being really aggressive and wanting short term gains…playing the long game has been a huge key factor to the team leveling up. We are putting in a lot more work and we are just being more deliberate with the training. We’re not going through the motions anymore — we are really working hard.” 

As for Mackinnon’s personal and team goals, he has his sights set on breaking the school 5000 meter record and on the team breaking into the top two at the Heptagonal championships this outdoor season. 

“I’ve never run a 5K on an outdoor track in a Cornell uniform. … The school record in the 5K is really old and it’s a pretty robust record [13:36] so I definitely have my sights set on that one. I’d love to take down that old record as well…hopefully I can run in that 13:30 range or break 13:30, I think that’s in my capacity,” Mackinnon said. “As for the team, I’d love to see us beat one of those top teams [Harvard and Princeton] at Heps…I would love to win Heps, but I think just taking down one of those programs would be a huge win for us.”

Lucas Corea is a Sun contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected].