The Pomona-Pitzer women’s cross country team is currently ranked fourth in the region after an impressive performance at the SCIAC Championships. The Sagehens follow league rival Occidental and two teams from the Northwest Conference, Whitworth and Whitman. This Saturday, Nov. 14, the Sagehens will race for a chance to make it to the National Championships, to be held Nov. 21 in Cleveland, Ohio.
The top two teams in the Regional Championships will automatically qualify for a trip to nationals. The third- and fourth-place teams in the region will also be eligible for an “at large” bid. At-large bids are determined by a selection committee that chooses teams based on the historical strength of the region, the proximity of scores of the teams, and the average time of the teams. The top seven runners not on a qualifying team will also qualify for Nationals individually. Last year, the Sagehens were second at the Regional Championships and finished 22nd at nationals.
This year, the Sagehens had a stand-out performance at the SCIAC Championships, and are looking to continue their success on Saturday. As the fourth team in the region going into the meet, the team has underdog status, but with some solid performances from their third, fourth, and fifth runners, the Sagehens definitely have a chance of placing in the top three, if not the top two.
As an added bonus, the race will be on Pomona’s campus in the area around the track, through the wash, and around the farm. Pomona-Pitzer hosted a meet earlier this year to preview the course, and the runners are looking forward to getting a second chance to race on the course.
“It is great that we are hosting the meet on such a familiar course,” said Rose Haag PO ’10. “There is definitely an advantage to having run sections of the course during workouts. Plus, having a meet at home means there will be more fans out to cheer us on.”
Alicia Freese PO ’10 finished third at Regionals last year and is looking forward to competing on her home course.
“Obviously, the ideal outcome would be for our team to qualify, which I see as feasible but challenging,” she said.
The Sagehens have not had the opportunity to compete against Whitman or Whitworth, the two teams from the Northwest Conference ranked above them, but they have been steadily improving their team score behind Occidental throughout the season.
“If you look at our team scores from the beginning of the season, it didn’t look that close between us and Oxy,” pointed out Zoe Meyers PO ’10. “But after SCIACs, it definitely seems possible for us to beat them, especially with some strong performances from the back of the pack.”
As for campus rival CMS, the Sagehens remain cautious and know that anything can happen on race day.
“We beat them at SCIACs by a pretty good margin, but you never want to write a team off, no matter how confident you are,” Meyers said.