Pitcavage Runs on Dedication, Leadership in Final Season

There are very few awake before sunrise on a daily basis here on the 5C campuses. Even less likely are you to find students who are excited to be up and running at six in the morning. And yet, a chorus of feet take to the trails, grass and cement surrounding the campuses most mornings. In itself, running is an individually focused sport, but for Sam Pitcavage PO '15, the success of the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps is paramount. In his final season on the team, he brings sportsmanship and enthusiasm to every practice. 

“He’s a really charismatic guy and has a natural propensity for leadership that shows in his ability to unify the team and get us excited for workouts and meets,” Phil Jauregui CM ’17 said.

Cross-country doesn’t get a lot of support as a spectator sport because the meets are most often off-campus, but despite this lack of attendance, Pitcavage has a strong sense of what he is really running for.

“Nobody’s doing it for attention or to be cool,” Pitcavage said. “We’re out there for ourselves and for the love of the sport. We tend to be similar kinds of people in that regard.”

Pitcavage was a sophomore when CMS finished eleventh at the NCAA tournament in 2012, the team's best finish yet. At Regionals in the same year, he set his own personal record of 25:24 in the 8-kilometer race. He is not the fastest runner on the team, but since his sophomore season, Pitcavage has consistently finished in the top five for CMS.

For the Beaverton, Ore., native, the importance of competition stretches beyond the results of a given race. Pitcavage finds pure enjoyment in competing for himself. Since there can only be one winner in every race, an athlete’s greatest accomplishment is setting a personal record.

“The chance to be in the peak physical condition of your entire life is a really great thing,” Pitcavage said. “On this day I will have been in the best shape of my life. No one can take a PR from you. Knowing you’re working on your fitness and getting better every year is fun.”

Although he did not have his best race last weekend at the SCIAC Multi-Duals, Pitcavage continues to stay positive and is looking forward to Nov. 1 at the SCIAC Championships.  

“You can go through a bad race and think your whole season is over and you’re never going to be good again,” Pitcavage said. “It’s a very emotional experience to have a bad race. Rebounding from that and sticking with it while learning to have faith in yourself and in the program is a difficult thing, but it’s worth it.”

His positive attitude and competitive spirit are what make him a great leader for the team, according to teammates. 

“On many men’s teams, the leader is a loud, macho guy who yells to get his team pumped up,” Will Clausen HM ’15 said. “While [Pitcavage] has a way with words that enables him to give moving speeches, his greater contribution is on the spiritual side of leadership. It's hard to find a more thoughtful or sensitive guy.”

As one of five seniors on the men’s team, Pitcavage serves as a role model for the younger athletes on the team as well.

“He’s undoubtedly earned his place as a leader on the team by consistently scoring well, but he’s also super down-to-earth and genuinely cares about everyone’s success,” Jauregui said. “He can believe in people more than they do themselves at times.”

Pitcavage is making the most of his last three collegiate competitions, but more than anything, he is concerned about the finish of the team over his own performance.

“I would love to end my career with my team finishing higher than we did in 2012,” Pitcavage said. “Our team will go to nationals because we will qualify as a team, not as a bunch of individuals.”

And while he hopes to contribute to their performance, Pitcavage says he would still be happy walking away with a team finish even if he doesn’t.

“He's the kind of guy who does it right when it comes to running cross-country,” Clausen said.

Pitcavage and the rest of the Stags and Athenas will compete at the SCIAC Championships in Prado Park on Nov. 1 before Regionals on Nov. 15.