Led by Floyd, P-P men’s track reaching new heights

A college-aged white male with brown hair sits on a grassy hill, smiling at the camera. He is wearing a blue athletic shirt and is waiting for track practice to begin.
Carter Floyd PO ’21 relaxes before track practice starts April 18. (Talia Bernstein • The Student Life)

No athlete has embodied the No. 4 Pomona-Pitzer men’s track team’s successful season as much as Carter Floyd PO ’21 — the current holder of Division III’s fastest time in the 800-meter and the third fastest in the 1,500-meter.

Floyd was named the National Athlete of the Week on April 9 by the United States Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association, becoming the first athlete in program history to do so.

Floyd said the Sagehens are now focused on what the next few weeks could bring.

“I’m hoping that in the coming weeks it all comes together and this season is as good as I hoped it would be from the start,” Floyd said.

Friday, Floyd will race at the Bryan Clay Invitational, hosted at Azusa Pacific University. Head coach Jordan Carpenter said he brings a handful of runners to the meet with the intention of setting national times.

For Floyd, this means he’ll get an opportunity to run the 1,500 — which he hasn’t run since March — and reclaim the top spot in the event in DIII.  

“I think I’m more excited about [the invitational] than I’ve ever been for a race before,” Floyd said. “My season has already been good and I’m hoping to just crush what it’s already been.”

Carpenter is optimistic about the race as well.

“We’re hoping he’ll run around 3:45, which would be leading the country again,” Carpenter said.

The impressive times of five or six distance runners are responsible for the team’s high national ranking, Carpenter said, which “speaks to their strength and their ability.”

While this select subset of Hens has nationals on their minds, the entire team is focused on securing back-to-back conference titles, which they’ll have the chance to do at the SCIAC Championships April 27 and 28.

“The goal for the team is to win conference again, so we’re in a very good place right now,” sprinter Daniel Tamkin PO ’21 said.

Carpenter said the team now has a “target on [their] back,” and a repeat win won’t necessarily be easy.

“On paper it’s really close between us, [Claremont-Mudd-Scripps] and Redlands,” he said. “It’s really going to come down to who shows up on the day and who has the guys on the team that step up and do things that maybe they’re not supposed to do on paper.”

“I want to run fast enough in the 1,500 to solidify myself as a sub-four-minute-miler.”

While the conference remains tight, the team’s No. 4 national ranking is the highest it has ever been. Floyd is hopeful that the Sagehens can place well at the NCAA DIII National Meet in May, and thinks it’s feasible that they finish as one of the top teams in the country.

“If we were to pull that off, that would be insane,” Floyd said. “If we were to all run what we should run, like what we are seeded as and stuff, I think we could do it very easily.”

Carpenter agreed.

“Hopefully we can get a top-10 finish,” Carpenter said. “We haven’t been top-10 in a long time, so definitely really exciting for our group.”

The team already has more nationals qualifiers than it had last year, but Floyd said there are a few more runners “on the cusp” that are looking to qualify in upcoming weeks.

“I hope that they’re doing what they can to make it because having more people go to nationals would just be so fun,” Floyd said.

Floyd himself has his eyes set on an elusive time barrier for runners.

“I want to run fast enough in the 1,500 to solidify myself as a sub-four-minute-miler,” he said. “I think that would be super cool.”

He also hopes to be the national championship in one event — either the 800 or the 1,500.

By the time nationals rolls around, Floyd will likely only race the 1,500, because it is difficult to run both races at that level of competition, Carpenter said. But he’s optimistic about Floyd’s chances in that event.

“With how hard he works and his ability to really hurt at the end of races, I think he’ll definitely be in the mix,” Carpenter said.

Floyd learned from what he felt was a disappointing nationals performance last year, when he finished 18th in the 800. He’s approaching this year from a more veteran perspective.

“I feel much more ready this year. Last year, I was super nervous, and I let that get in the way too much,” Floyd said. “This year, I’m going to be much more calm about it because I know it’s just like another race.”

Having more teammates competing alongside him will “help a lot too,” he said.

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