P-P, CMS cross country teams head to Nationals after strong performances at Regionals

Ethan Widlansky PO ’22 races toward the finish line during the NCAA West Regional Championship Nov. 10. (Courtesy of P-P Athletics)

The Pomona-Pitzer and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps cross-country teams dominated in the NCAA West Regional Championship Nov. 10, with all four teams securing a bid to the National Championship. The men’s teams tied for first place with 54 points, and the CMS women edged out the Sagehens, who finished in second behind the Athenas.

The men’s race came down to the wire, and ultimately ended in a 54-54 tie. There was confusion in the scoring at the end of the meet, but it eventually became clear that both teams qualified for Nationals.

The P-P men’s team entered regionals having won their second consecutive SCIAC championship two weeks before. Andy Reischling PO ’19 led the team at Regionals, finishing in 24:49.2, with an average mile time of 4:59.6. Adin Becker PO ’20, the second fastest on the P-P team, clocked in at 25:23.6 at 10th place.

Because of the success of last year’s season, the team is confident and ready to move forward next week.

“We were a little less concerned with winning [the SCIAC] this year,” head coach Jordan Carpenter said. “Last year was our first time winning a conference meet in 12 years and a first region win in five years. This year, we were more focused on the national meet because we knew we had the capacity to go further.”

Reischling has been a key runner for the team, and has now won the individual SCIAC and West Regional Conference titles for the past two years.

“[Reischling] has already competed at the highest level,” Carpenter said. “He’s the leader of the team and our success starts with him.”

Reischling explained that even though the tie at Regionals was chaotic, it didn’t faze the Sagehens, who were only focused on qualifying for the NCAA Championship.

“After the race, we weren’t really sure of the outcome; they had us winning, then losing, then tied, then [it] went to a tie breaker,” he said. “We weren’t too worried because Regionals is all about getting to the next level. This weekend at Nationals, we think we can get to the top four if we have a really great race, but at the minimum we want to match our best performance, which was getting to the top six last year.”

The Stags’ performance at Regionals was more surprising than P-P’s. Two weeks ago, CMS came in third in the SCIAC meet, finishing behind the Sagehens and Occidental. However, they rebounded well in Walla Walla, tying for first in the entire West Region.

Miles Christensen HM ’22 led the team with a third place finish, crossing the finish line in 25:04.1. He was followed by teammate Stevie Steinberg HM ’21 at 25:20.0, good for ninth place.

“Our conference meet didn’t go the way we had anticipated, so the weeks between that and regionals, we really had to re-focus,” Christensen said. “We were definitely more prepared for the level of competition because we knew that P-P, Occidental, and Santa Cruz were the teams to look out for.”

On the women’s side, CMS won the title with 39 points, with P-P trailing in second with 93. The Athenas gained a comfortable lead by having five of their runners finish in the top 15.

Lila Cardillo PO ’22 and Natalie Marsh SC ’19 go head to head in the NCAA West Regional Championship Nov. 10. (Courtesy of P-P Athletics)

Natalie Marsh SC ’19 led the way for CMS, finishing in fifth place with a time of 22:26.9. Malea Martin CM ’19 and Abby Johnson SC ’21 followed, clocking in at 22:26.9 and 22:33.3, good enough for sixth and eighth place.

“Going into the meet, our goal as a team was to place first,” Martin said. “But perhaps more important than that, our goal was to each individually run to the best of our abilities and to practice racing in colder conditions than we usually do in preparation for the nationals.”

P-P’s Helen Guo PO ’20 won the race individually, finishing in 21:48.5, and was followed 30 seconds later by Lila Cardillo PO ’22, who placed third. The team hopes to learn from their race and carry their energy into nationals.

“This week, we’re cutting back on mileage and doing workouts that are keeping us in shape but not pushing us, so we’re well rested going into Nationals,” Cardillo said. “Last week helped us recognize that we are a capable team and we deserve to be going to Nationals, which helped because we are a very young team.”

All four P-P and CMS teams will travel to Nationals in Oshkosh, Wisconsin Nov. 17.

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