The hot Claremont sun bore down on Zinfandel Track March 3 as the Pomona-Pitzer men’s track and field team competed in the CMS quad meet. Captains Paul Balmer PO ’12 and Ryan Meyer PO ’12 trotted out their battalion for a day of millennium-old foot races and exhibitions of strength, the first this spring under the SCIAC heading.
Crowds flocked to the edge of the oval for this first taste of bitter competition. Four teams arrived in the morning, ready to compete: P-P, CMS, Whittier College and Redlands. Due to the structure of their schedule, P-P runs all of their SCIAC dual meets with CMS, but will only score against them once (five points for a first place finish, three for second and one for third).
Although no final number would differentiate our beloved Sagehens from their northern foes, the glint of yellow singlets could be seen square in their eyes for the duration of the meet.
Even the first-years understood the scope of the unofficial rivalry. Pyror Stroud PO ’15 was heard talking solemnly to teammate Ben Girodias PO ’15 as the two warmed up for the 1500 with loops around Collins Bistro: “We’re here. CMS is here. Do I have to say anything more?”
Girodias bared his teeth.
As the competition unfurled, Meyer led by example, setting personal bests in the 400-meter dash with 49.62, good for fourth, and in the 200-meter with 22.48, good for third. Teammates Titus VanHook PO ’14 and Matt Sloane PO ’15 finished right behind Meyer in the 200, an event the Sagehens will look to own as the season progresses.
CMS and Redlands claimed the top six spots in the 800, but talk outside of Edmunds Ballroom later that night focused on the 2:01.41 finish by first-year phenom Adam Faison PZ ’15 and the gutsy performance by rising star Gerardo Paleo PO ’15, which featured an all-in final lap to edge out Scott Humbarger PO ’12 when the final cards were shown.
The 1500 was where the Hens stockpiled many of their resources, as 11 of the 24 entrants donned the illustrious Orange and Blue. Leading this veritable swarm was Stroud, finishing in 4:10.37, less than a second in front of mentors Balmer and Alex Johnson PZ ’13. Both of these older runners are more traditional 5K specialists. However, the duo enjoyed the chance to compete in a shorter, faster race and help the team out.
Emphasizing the importance of versatility, Johnson said, “I’m willing to help out wherever. If Coach needs me in the shot put or out on the hammer throw field, I’ll tap all my reserves and do my best.”
In the 4×400-meter relay, a hand-picked crew consisting of Gregory Hook PZ ’14, Faison, Sloane and Meyer left intractable burn marks on Zinfandel track with their blistering mark of 3:21.79, staggeringly far in front of second-place Whittier’s 3:37.07.
In the 5K race that went out slow, late on that hot day, Anders Crabo PO ’12 showed little trouble in dissecting and dispatching the 27-man field, finishing on the track in 15:34.74.
“Diagnosis: Dub,” said Crabo, who is known affectionately by teammates and hostilely by enemies as “The Doctor.”
Johnson alone took on three CMS yellow shirts in vying for second place, but could not prevail. Johnson and Alexander Johann PO ’14 finished fifth and sixth, respectively, both breaking the 16-minute mark.
At the end of the day, when SCIAC officials took stock of the blood- and sweat-drenched battlefield, they reported the following: University of Redlands 129, P-P 31. Whittier College 77, P-P 70. Redlands is the SCIAC Men’s Track returning champion and a formidable opponent, but the loss to Whittier College was a little tough for the Hens, who resumed practice this week with renewed determination and focus.
The Sagehens will look to compete next in an Occidental dual meet today and the famed Occidental Distance Carnival March 16, which is expected to bring in elite runners from all over.