CMS, P-P men on SCIAC cross-country collision course as Athenas look for 10th straight title

With an explosive start, the Pomona-Pitzer men’s cross country team begins an 8000-meter race. (Courtesy of Rudy Valenzu)

CMS women take aim at 10th straight conference title

This season, the Athenas are attempting a feat nearly unheard of in college sports: a 10th straight conference championship. 

As it aims to continue their dominance of the decade, CMS will be led by Abigail Johnson SC ’21, a star on the track who also placed fourth in last year’s SCIAC cross-country championship. 

The conference’s preseason poll picked Athenas to retain their status as conference champions once again. The team also hopes to improve on its 18th place finish nationally last year.

On the whole, the Athenas are hopeful for the success of their team members, both returning and new. “More people on the team have definitely risen up to be leaders,” Olivia Gleason SC ’21 said. “I feel like the team is really cohesive this year. The freshmen are great, and each class is working well and merging well with each other.” 

So far, the Athenas finished third at the Biola Invitational and sixth at the UC Riverside Invitational. The women next race at the Coyote Challenge at CSU San Bernardino on Sept. 21.

P-P women’s cross-country has eyes on the prize, wants to finally topple Athenas

Though the Sagehen women’s cross-country team hasn’t won a conference title since 1991, this year’s squad thinks the top of the SCIAC podium is finally within reach.

P-P finished second to perennial favorite CMS last season and return star runners Helen Guo PO ’20 and Lila Cardillo PO ’22 as they try to end the Athenas’ nine-year winning streak. The Sagehens also competed in the Division III National Championships last season and placed 32nd.

In this year’s SCIAC preseason poll, coaches selected P-P to finish second, behind CMS. Guo, however, envisions a different outcome for the Hens. 

“It’s different from other years because it feels like our team really has a shot, and it’s been wonderful to see everyone focus their mindset and put a lot of commitment into this,” she said. 

The team is hoping the addition of nearly a dozen first-years will provide much-needed depth and bolster its chances come the conference championship meet. 

“We have 10 or 11 new freshmen, so we’re very bottom-heavy, but they bring a type of excitement and youthful vibe,” Guo said. 

So far, the Sagehens have beaten Occidental at a dual meet and chose to race in the less competitive field at the UC Riverside Invitational. The women’s cross-country team will next compete at the Master’s Meet on Sept. 28 in Santa Clarita.

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Pomona-Pitzer men’s cross-country ‘hungry’ for more than a SCIAC title

Head coach Jordan Carpenter is two-for-two in capturing SCIAC titles since he took over as the Sagehen men’s cross-country coach in 2017, and his squad which had gone winless for more than a decade beforehand will look to extend that unbeaten streak this season with a third straight win.

Returning harriers like Hugo Ward PO ’21, Daniel Rosen PO ’20, Owen Woo PZ ’21 and Ethan Widlansky PO ’22 will be key to the hopes of the team, which was selected in a preseason poll of the conference’s head coaches to score a repeat title.

But Carpenter said the team has loftier goals in mind. Last fall, the Sagehens finished seventh at the Division III national championship meet in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Two years ago, they placed sixth.

“It’s the first time in program history that we’ve had back-to-back top-10 finishes, so we’re obviously hungry for a little more,” he said.

After an August tune-up race against Occidental, the team got its first real meet action Sept. 14 at the UC Riverside Invitational, where it finished sixth. The Sagehens will split their squad next race, sending some runners to the Capital Cross Challenge in Sacramento and others to The Master’s University Cross Country Invite in Santa Clarita, both on Sept. 28.

CMS men’s cross-country hoping to end Sagehens’ streak

After finishing third behind Occidental and P-P last year at the SCIAC championships, the Stags have plenty of motivation to win the 2019 SCIAC title and get back to the national championship meet, where they placed 27th last season. 

This year’s preseason poll has the Stags finishing in second place. Prior to P-P’s recent streak, CMS had won five straight championships and hopes for a return to glory this year.

“We’re a little bit older than we were last year, so we’re a little bit more mature, and we’re a little bit faster,” head coach John Goldhammer said. “We don’t have any freshmen in our top group, so that’s usually a pretty good sign, especially in the men’s competition.” 

What the Stags do have, though, are veterans like Stevie Steinberg HM ’21, Kyril Van Schendel CM ’22 and Thomas D’Anieri CM ’20, who placed third at the 2017 SCIAC championship meet before missing the 2018 season while abroad.

To kick off the season, the Stags finished third at the Biola Invitational on Sept. 7 and placed fifth at the UC Riverside Invitational, ahead of P-P. The Stags will next compete Sept. 21 at the Coyote Challenge hosted by CSU San Bernardino.

 

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