XC15 Athletes of the Fortnight


In a published post from last week, I mentioned that we would be waiting an extra week to announce our third edition of the 2015 HepsXC athlete awards due to the competition schedule.  I also asked at the end of that same post on what the honor should be called since the awards would be covering a two week span.  We got one response.  Greg Page – the founder of the Cornell’s women track and field/cross country program and still one of their biggest fans – suggested “Athletes of the Fortnight”.

And so, here is our edition of “Cross Country Athletes of the Fortnight”!

Male Athlete of the Week

Columbia’s Tait Rutherford made quite a 2015 season debut at the Princeton Inter Regional meet.  In cool, windy conditions at West Windsor Fields, Rutherford stayed in the front pack during the 8km race and used a mighty kick to chase down Indiana’s Kyle Duvall in the final 100 meters to secure third place by 0.1 seconds.  Rutherford’s final time was 24:10.8, making him the top Ivy finisher of the day.  His low stick helped Columbia finish 3rd in the team standings, beating nationally ranked Providence and North Carolina.  In addition, the Lions received their first national votes for the season, entering the polls at #28.

Female Athleted of the Week

Racing on your home course could be a bit of an advantage, and Princeton used that advantage when they hosted the Inter Regional Meet.  Elizabeth Bird led the Lady Tigers to the team title as she finished third in the 6km race with a time of 20:42.7.  The team win also produced a boost in the vote tally as they moved from #28 to #25 in the national poll AND moved to third in the Mid-Atlantic Region.  This is Bird’s second meet where she finished as the Lady Tiger’s #1 runner, as she previously won the individual title at the Harvard-Yale-Princeton tri-meet in September.

Taylor Spillane has been Cornell’s #1 for the last year as she maintained that slot at the Paul Short Invitational in Bethlehem, PA.  In cold and rainy conditions, Spillane had her best finish at the Lehigh University 6km course as she finished 4th overall in the Gold Race.  Her 20:33.5 finishing time is not a course best for her (20:13.7 from 2014) but it goes to show on how much the weather played into the athletes’ performances that day.  Cornell finished as the top American team in the Gold Race as they finished second overall with 155 points, which helped the Big Red women return to the national polls at #29 after lingering around the last few weeks in the “receiving votes” category.  This is Spillane’s second HepsXC honor this season.

Male Rookies of the Week

The difference a month can make… In Steven Sum’s first collegiate race this season, he crossed the finish line at the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet as Princeton’s #5 runner.  In his first collegiate home race, Sum crossed the line as Princeton’s #1 runner, finishing in 6th place in the Princeton Inter Regional 8km with a time of 24:12.4.  The Tigers ended up second overall in the team standings, jumping into the national polls at #27.  Now, with Princeton heading to Wisconsin for the Adidas Invitational this Friday, what kind of improvements can we see from Sum in that race?

Marco Pompilj led the Dartmouth Big Green to a fourth place team showing at the New England Championships at Franklin Park this past weekend.  Pompilj finished 16th overall (15th overall in scoring) with a time of 25:12.4 on the 8km course.  This was Pompilj’s first #1 runner finish in a varsity race, as he previous was the Big Green #1 in the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown #1 runner in the JV 5km race in September.

Female Rookie of the Week

Brown’s Emma Sloan also got her first taste as being a #1 runner on her collegiate team as she was Brown’s #1 and top Ivy finisher in the New England Championship Women’s 5km race.  She finished in 18:10.8 in 16th place, less than two seconds ahead of Yale’s Meredith Rizzo (18:12.3 in 19th place).  Brown ended up seventh in the team standings.

photo by Sami Aziz

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