CMS Benefits From Hard Work With High Finishes

The top runners from the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s and women’s cross country teams headed north to run in the Stanford University Invitational Sept. 27, while the rest of the team traveled to California State University to compete at the San Bernardino Invitational. Both invitationals proved to be successful races for the Stags and Athenas. 

In Palo Alto, the Stags came in third among the non-Division I teams with a total of 130 points in one of the best performances in the team’s regular season history. They outran all six other Division III schools, 11 of the Division II schools, and were beat by DII teams California State University at Chico State and University of California at San Diego.

The Athenas’ success with a fifth-place finish against all other non-DI teams was also impressive, beating nine DII teams and all the other DIII schools. The women finished with 143 points, bested only by the University of Victoria, Chico State, Simon Fraser University and UC San Diego.

Nine Stags broke 26:00 with the four non-scoring runners, Sam Pitcavage CM ’15 (25:26), Nico Banks CM ’17 (25:43), Justin Jones HM ’15 (25:56) and Kevin Huang HM ’18 (25:56), posting the fastest times ever logged for a CMS sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth runner. 

Zorg Loustalet HM ‘16 led the Stags with a personal best of 24:28, finishing 31st in the 362-runner field. The scoring five runners averaged 25:00.8 with Garrett Ryan CM ’17 (24:45), Alex Lombardo CM ’17 (24:59), Alex Mauro CM ’15 (25:26) and Jack Wilson CM ’16 (25:26) also posting personal bests. 

CMS Coach John Goldhammer was pleasantly surprised with the men's team competitive results. The Stags are a relatively young team, but Goldhammer praised the sophomore class for their talent and work ethic. 

"We’ve got some guys with talent who decided they want to run well and have made a huge impact on our program," Goldhammer said. "As have the sophomores on the women’s side, actually. The sophomore class in general has made a night-and-day change for our program.”

Sara Mostatabi CM ‘15 led the Athenas with a 22:10 time, placing 45th in the 330-runner field. Bryn McKillop SC ‘18 led a strong, underclass group at 22:40. She was followed by Caroline Willian CM ‘17 (23:10), Jen Lehr SC  ‘17 (23:19), Breanna Sewell CM ‘18 (23:34), Anna Shepard CM ‘17 (23:46), Stephanie LaFace CM ‘17 (23:50) and Rachel Mow HM ’17 (23:55).

The teams’ rigorous training regimens certainly had something to do with this impressive showing.

“For the pre-season, we have a pretty intense training plan that we follow. We take it seriously because it’s basically half of our season since the actual cross-country season is so short," Mow said. "Once the training starts in the school year, the intensity increases a lot while the mileage [required amount of miles run per week] tends to decrease."

Though the team went into the Stanford Invitational off a hard work of training, CMS runners learn to race hard through the pain.

"A lot of us went into Stanford pretty exhausted. Our legs were sore, but you just have to learn how to suck it up and race hard anyway,” Mow said.

Stanford’s course may also have had something to do with the high number of personal bests. The course is flat, and the grass is cut short, making it easier to run quickly. The weekend's mild temperatures (mid-60s) also made for near-ideal racing conditions, compared to the teams’ recent meet at the University of California, Riverside (high 90s). These aspects, combined with the high-caliber competition at the Invitational, which draws some of the best teams in the country, contributed to the push from CMS athletes to run their hardest. 

At Cal State San Bernardino, both the Stags (74 points) and the Athenas (84 points) placed third. Four of the top-five scoring runners posted personal bests, including Hunter Olsen CM ’18 (26:29), Ryan Jones HM ’16 (26:54), Matt Cook HM ’18 (27:00) and Alex Mitchell CM ’18 (27:15). Also turning in personal bests were Ari Rubin CM ’17 (27:56), Brian Chmelik CM ’18 (28:02), Mac Hightower CM ’16 (28:09), Arch Robison HM ’18 (28:28), Dan McCabe HM ’17 (28:29) and J.P. Kiefer CM ‘18 (29:23).

The Stags will compete next at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational this Saturday, Oct. 4. The Stags will race at 7:45 a.m. and the Athenas will race at 8:30 a.m.