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The Track Meet Experience

I’m a track geek. I admit it. After running nine seasons of high school track, I was beyond excited to attend my first Cornell indoor track meets at Barton Hall.

There is a lot more to track and field than meets the eye. It is not just about running fast, jumping high, or throwing far, but also about personal discipline and drive. The sport is physically and mentally trying, demanding devoted commitment and strict training regimens. Athletes work hard to perfect their form and strategy, often battling injuries behind the scenes.

Despite being an individual sport, track also has a unique team element of mutual success and support. Although often an under appreciated sport, track and field is a true picture of dedication and resolution in athletic excellence.

For a first-time spectator, however, a track meet can be hard to navigate. There’s a lot going on – a wide range of events, from races of varying distances on the track to field competitions within the oval – often at the same time. Multiple heats feed into trial and final rounds of each event, and the schedule continuously flashes on the screen, indicating what will come next in the long day of competition. At a track meet, everything seems to be going on at once. Athletes stretch and warm up in preparation, races surge around them, hurdles are moved on and off the track, “cracks” signal the starts of races, and jumping and throwing occurs in the middle and to the side of it all.

Since the 1920s, Barton Hall has been home to the Cornell track and field team. Following a makeover in 2016, the facility not only now sports a freshly-surfaced track for sprint and distance events, but also renovated areas for jumping and throwing competitions. Within the 200-meter “infield” lies two runways and sandpits for the long jump and triple jump, two pole vault runways and two high jump stations. The throwing cage, protected by a high chain link fence, stands in the corner of the building. With these new additions and improvements, Barton Hall is considered one of the finest indoor complexes in the ECAC, and is undeniably suited for the quick changes and fast-paced nature of a college track meet.

From the excitement of the events, to the thrill of watching athletes achieve personal records, to the vibrant red color of the track, a Cornell track and field meet is a special experience, showcasing a wide array of unique talents and specialties. Starting the the Greg Page Relays on December 2nd, the Cornell team certainly has shown its strength throughout the indoor season, producing a variety of personal, school and conference records. The Big Red ended the first weekend of March on a high note, leaving the Boston University Track and Tennis Center with a third-place team finish in the ECAC Division I Track and Field Championships. Now the team looks ahead to the start of its outdoor season, which will kick off with the Penn Invitational on March 24th.


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