Men’s Track Looking to Finish Strong in All-SCIAC Meet This Weekend

By the time The Student Life hits newspaper stands today, SCIAC Track and Field Championships will be just hours away. Dozens of athletes from all eight teams (and 11 schools) of which the league consists will be on their way past the P-P baseball field and Sontag Greek Theatre toward Strehle Track, the site of this year’s championships.

The Pomona-Pitzer men’s track and field season began officially on February 19 with the Pomona-Pitzer All-Comers Meet, but it really began months, perhaps years, earlier when the runners, hurdlers, throwers, jumpers, and vaulters that make up the team began training for their 2011 season.

The season has had its ups and downs. Ryan Meyer PO ’12, for example, in only his second meet of the year, ran an impressive 50.13, but injured himself in the triple jump later that day and missed a precious few weeks of training as a result. His 51.13 at the April 9th Pomona-Pitzer Invitational, however, showed that the Pomona junior, although still working his way back, is on his way to a strong performance in today’s big meet.

More recently, All-American Anders Crabo PO ’12, after strong early season progression in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, crashed into a barrier at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 14. He managed to finish the race in a season-best 9:13.30, but the fall cost him what might have been an automatic qualifying time for nationals, and it certainly cost him important training time while rehabbing his knee.

The team’s 2011 SCIAC record at this point is hardly worth delving into in print, but to reiterate a point from past weeks, the Sagecocks typically do much better at larger (championship) meets than at dual meets. At smaller meets, teams need strong athletes in many events in order to do well; in larger meets (and the more so the larger the meet) better performances are needed to score, but fewer scoring performances are needed.

And so, heading into this afternoon’s and tomorrow’s SCIAC Championships, the Sagecocks hope to step up and beat many of the SCIAC teams that earlier in the season managed to defeat them in dual meets due to their depth. Certainly the team has little hope of scoring in many of the 19 events contested this weekend, but strong performances in a number could prove to be enough to upset a few strong rivals.

In the men’s 100-meter, the P-P men are led by ’09 SCIAC runner-up Jack Lewis PO ’12—famous for leading the men in scoring in 2009 with an impressive 24.5 points out of the 63.33 the team earned. Lewis is currently ranked 12th in the league with his season-best 11.10, but scoring (top-6 finishers) is certainly not out of the question, as Lewis has become known for improving dramatically at this meet and scoring much-needed points for the Hens.

The 110 high hurdles, however, is Lewis’s primary event, and although he ranks 7th in the league at this point, his time is just 0.14 off 3rd. He is also the two-time defending champion in this event, having upset list-leading Ross Blanchard of Redlands one year ago.

In the men’s 400-meter, Pomona-Pitzer has only gotten stronger in recent years. Going into this spring’s championship, the men have runners ranked 7th, 9th, and 11th, all within less than half a second of one another. Greg Hook PZ ’14 leads the way with his early-April 50.02, and looks to be the first Sagehen to score in this event in years.

Colin Flynn PZ ’12—the 2009 1,500-meter champion and 800-meter runner-up—leads the Hens in both the 800 and the 1,500 this season. With 2011 bests of 1:55.34 and 3:57.07, Flynn ranks 6th and 3rd in the league thus far in the two middle-distance events. In the 1,500 though, he is less than a second off the best time in SCIAC; and in the 800, the top 10 are separated by less than two seconds. Neither race has a clear favorite, and at this point it’s impossible to say who will take the win.

The longest-distance event of the meet, the 5,000 meters, has of late been dominated by our rivals at CMS—they won the event the last two years and have the three fastest runners so far this season in Kris Brown CMC ’11, Rafer Dannenhauer CMC ’13, and Brian Sutter CMC ’13. Alex Johnson PZ ’13 is currently 6th in the league, and Crabo, in 10th, has scored here before.

In the steeplechase, P-P and the SCIAC are led by two-time defending champion Crabo. He leads the list by more than six seconds and is looking to three-peat, and perhaps improve on his SCIAC meet record from last year. The Hens also boast Charlie Enscoe PO ’11, at 4th on the league list, who hopes to improve on his 5th-place finish from last year to complete the P-P 1-2 sweep.

On the field, Mike Grier PO ’11 is currently tied with high jumpers from Occidental and Cal Lutheran for 5th in the league in their event. With the 3rd through 9th jumpers all within two inches of each other, the divvying up of points will come down to who can be at their best this weekend, as in other close events like the 110 hurdles and the 800.

Of course, they hold championship meets—they play the game—for a reason: you never know how things are going to turn out. Certain results are undoubtedly less likely than others, but much is left up in the air until however long after the gun sounds.

Depending on when you’re reading this, this year’s SCIAC champions might already have been crowned. But if it is still before 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 30, more are to come. Field events (including the now-infamous “hammer throw”) begin at 2:30 today; after mostly prelims—qualifying races for tomorrow’s finals—the evening closes with the men’s and women’s steeplechases at 6:10 and 6:30, respectively. Tomorrow all events are finals, and action goes from 2:30 (3:30 on the track) until the meet’s final, and always exciting, men’s and women’s 4×400 at 6:25 and 6:30.

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