ITHACA, N.Y. – After recovering from injuries and getting back to 100 percent, sophomores Matt and Greg Fusco were ready to shine heading into the outdoor track and field season at Cornell.
But the talented twins were both extremely disappointed to find out that the NCAA had canceled the entire spring season due to COVID-19.
“Missing a full season is always tough and the fact that I’m finally healthy and feeling 100 percent makes it hurt a little more,” said Matt, who along with his brother is a 2018 graduate of Somers High School. “I also missed several awards and top finishes by very small margins this year, so I was looking to have a breakout season this spring. We’re still very fortunate to be only sophomores though, so it’s good we still have at least two more years of college sports left to accomplish the rest of our goals.”
The duo competes for the entirety of the school year at Cornell between cross country, indoor track and field, and outdoor.
Matt endured an injury toward the end of cross-country season, so he was only able to train for the final four or five weeks of the indoor winter season.
“I was still able to put together a decent personal best in the 5K at the Ivy League Indoor Championships, which we hosted at home this year,” said Matt, who clocked a time of 14:26.57 in the 5K. “Although I was happy to run a big PR when it mattered, I was frustrated to get out-leaned at the line and ended up short of a podium spot by less than a tenth of a second. I can’t complain overall though, because I was still able to finish the indoor season healthy and with some new personal bests in the mile and 5K.”
Greg suffered an Achilles injury during cross-country season and underwent surgery in October, forcing him to miss the rest of cross country and limiting what he could do during the indoor season.
“I think that, given the circumstances, things went very well for me,” Greg said. “Our team hosted the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships at home, which is a very important meet to all Ivy League schools and one with a ton of history. It was my first real race back from injury all year and I was very happy to have helped our distance medley relay team place fifth overall. The fact that I was hurt all year and was finally starting to find my stride makes the end of sports even more frustrating. Nonetheless, I’m happy to have helped score points for Cornell this indoor season and am happy to finally be healthy again.”
During cross-country season in the fall, Matt was named the team’s MVP. He recorded a ninth-place finish at the NCAA Northeast Regional competition.
Because of his injury-plagued sophomore campaign, Greg’s biggest accomplishments so far at Cornell came during his freshman season.
“I was able to come in fifth place that year in the 3,000-meter run indoors against a very strong field and became one of only two freshmen in Ivy League history to score in a distance event,” he said. “Another big highlight that came from that race and that season was that both my brother, Matt, and I were able to dip under the 36-year-old Cornell freshman record in the 3,000-meter run. I know I speak for both of us when I say how much it meant to us to be able to do something big like this. Breaking school records with Matt felt just like high school again.”
The twins starred for Somers in cross country and track and field during their four-year varsity careers. They gave plenty of credit to their coaches and mentors.
“I feel like we’ve improved a lot as athletes since high school,” Matt said. “Coach [Mike] Lacko and Coach [Jesse] Arnett put us in a great spot to succeed immediately after coming to campus and the higher mileage training combined with some harder workouts led to better fitness and faster times since coming to college.”
Greg said they were in a perfect position to make a big impact coming out of high school.
“Coach Lacko and Coach Arnett put us in a great spot by building up our love for the sport and preaching the importance of showing up in the big moments,” Greg said. “When talking about leadership and our development as runners, it would be impossible to not mention how much our parents have helped us along in this transition from high school to college running. One of the biggest things that has helped us is them always believing in us and giving us every bit of confidence to be the best we possibly can be. Whether it’s showing up to every single meet we run at or talking for hours on the phone about running and school, none of what we have done in the past two years would have been possible without them.”
Despite the lack of an outdoor season this year, the twins are just thankful to have two years left to make their mark at Cornell.
“It definitely stings that there won’t be an outdoor season,” Greg said. “Personally, coming off of surgery and having the momentum I had off of very limited training, I was hoping to have my best season yet, but clearly there are things much bigger than sports going on right now in the world. I’m just grateful to have at least two more years of college sports to achieve all of my goals.”
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