Riding on the back of the team’s most successful season last fall, the Pomona-Pitzer women’s cross country team recognizes that the triumph of the Sagehens this fall will rely on the leadership of its veteran runners.
After finishing 10th at Nationals last year, P-P has looked to run it back with some fresh faces and returning upperclassmen. On Saturday, the Sagehens hosted the Pomona-Pitzer invite, where the team finished third overall.
“Our team did a remarkable job training over the summer to prepare for the fall,” Kirk Reynolds, who coaches both P-P women’s track and cross country teams, said. “The fall season is so short that you have to do something in the summer, and all of our team members were prepared coming into mid-August. It was very rewarding.”
Abigail Louiselle PO ’23 said pre-season is a time to build community with teammates.
“I definitely had a good training block this summer, but I’m iron deficient … which is definitely not something talked enough about in women’s running,” Louiselle said. “What got me through, other than medical aid, was definitely my teammates — the best support system I could ever ask for. They pushed [me] through every workout, encouraged me and told me that it was going to get better, and today it did.”
Louiselle believes the success of this support system is based around the team’s positive energy and ability to have fun.
“We just try to laugh as much as possible and make fun of the things we do because if we take it too seriously, you are just going to be getting into your own head and hurting yourself,” Louiselle said. “The vibe on the team is certainly welcoming and creative and quirky and all the best stuff about running.”
The culture of the team is rooted in the mentorship of its first-years by veteran players.
“First-years are adapting well and learning how to be on a college team, but also how to figure out how to be in college,” Reynolds said. “So many things changed: dorms, dining halls, coaching staff and friends that surround you … We purposely talk about having the veterans on the team mentor the newcomers because they remember their own experience and want to help the first-years.”
While Louiselle is helping new runners begin their college experience, she has her eyes set on the season’s end following her taste of success last year at Nationals.
“We are looking forward to having a really good race at Nationals,” she said. “We finished 10th last year — which is our highest ever in program history — so we’ve been using that momentum to work really hard this summer building up, making sure that we stay healthy and focus on the goals long-term. I know everyone is working their hardest, and I can see the commitment at every single practice and single race, so I’m really excited about how the rest of the season goes.”
Reynolds shared Louiselle’s desire for improvement.
“Now we’re in October, so the meets become a little more competitive and our team goals concrete,” Reynolds said. “We’re headed to the Big 3 at the end of the season: the conference [championship], regional championship and then the National Championships. Tenth place last fall was a tremendous team achievement, but I know our team can place higher and be among the super elite of Division III.”
The Sagehens will next compete at both the Augustina XC Invite and UC Riverside Invite on Saturday. The team is also looking forward to competing in the Oct. 29 SCIAC Championship, which could book their ticket to Nationals.