TRACK : Syracuse hopes to set tone for season at Cornell Upstate Challenge

first_img Published on January 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Jacob: [email protected] Comments Donald Pollitt legged out a first-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles at the Cornell Upstate Challenge last season. The freshman crossed the finish line in a Big East championship qualifying time in one of the first races of his Syracuse career.Pollitt, now a sophomore, said that race helped set the tone for the rest of his season.‘It was a very big confidence booster because that was one of my first college races,’ Pollitt said. ‘I was going to a 42-inch high hurdle, so coming from high school, it was very hard to get used to them. But that set my season up to be a very successful one.’Pollitt and the rest of the Syracuse track and field team hope to lay the foundation for a successful season with a strong performance in the 2012 Cornell Upstate Challenge this Saturday in Ithaca, N.Y. The Orange started off its indoor season at the Cornell Relays on Dec. 3, a low-key meet that gave younger runners a chance to compete early in the season. Although it’s the second meet, head coach Chris Fox said the Upstate Challenge is the true season opener.Fox said the Upstate Challenge is a crucial step for his players to qualify for the Big East championship. With only three chances to qualify for the conference championship, each athlete hopes to post a qualifying mark as early in the season as possible.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAnd as the Cornell Relays did, it gives the underclassmen a chance to gain experience and prove themselves in preparation for bigger meets later on. For the veterans, it serves as an opportunity to put them in position to qualify for the high-profile meets with elite competition.Senior Ieva Staponkute is making her season debut this weekend. She placed first in the triple jump in last year’s Upstate Challenge and qualified for the Big East and Eastern College Athletic Conference championships in the process. Staponkute said that successful showings in the early meets of the season help relieve pressure and stress during qualifying time.‘You can get into any other meet knowing you have already qualified for the championship and just try to set a personal record and get the best mark you can,’ Staponkute said. ‘So you could eventually, maybe, get into the biggest meets of the year.’Fox said he has high aspirations for both the men’s and women’s teams coming into the indoor season. The Orange has steadily climbed the Big East standings over the last few years and hopes to finish in the top third of the Big East in the indoor season. ‘We probably have five or six athletes on the team that are trying to qualifying for Indoor Nationals,’ Fox said. ‘Just by qualifying for indoor nationals, it makes you one of the 16 best people in the country.’But reaching that level of success comes with a price.Staponkute said Syracuse’s top runners monitor everything from their diets to their sleep schedules. Staponkute is among those entering the season with aspirations to qualify for nationals, setting her goals high for her final year at SU.After qualifying for the Big East championship last year, she fell short of making nationals. She said she hopes to make up for that personal disappointment this season. And the road to redemption starts this Saturday in Ithaca.Staponkute and Pollitt agreed the Upstate Challenge provides an opportunity to qualify for later meets and takes away the stress surrounding the process. For Fox, there’s no better place to qualify for a championship meet than the first meet of the year.‘I know everyone that runs this weekend would like to qualify,’ Fox said. ‘It takes the pressure off.’[email protected]center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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