Men’s Track and Field Falls Narrowly at Occidental Distance Carnival

With nothing clouding their minds besides the Occidental Distance Carnival March 16, Pomona-Pitzer men’s track and field adopted a hardheaded mentality this spring break, suppressing their desires for anything other than sweat, competition and results.

“This event marks a major transition point in the season,” team captain Paul Balmer PO ’12 said. “The pleasantries of January are gone. It’s time we pack up our tools for a raw power-move.”

Anders Crabo PO ’12 delivered on Balmer’s mandate, serving up a 3000-meter steeplechase time of 9:07.51. The mark is just two seconds shy of Crabo’s personal record, an impressive feat considering it is only March and the Sagecock has the two months leading up to the national meet to zero in on a new record. His career best came at the Division III National Championships two years ago.

We caught up with Crabo later that night, sharing training tips with PPTF women’s steeple star Leslie Canter PZ ’12. Crabo was proud but humble.

“I ran into some savage competition and I’m just glad I was able to match up with them the way I did,” he said.

While Crabo looks to close out his college track career with a strong finish at the national meet (which will be hosted by CMS May 24-26), a younger teammate also burst onto the national scene at the Distance Carnival. The sensational Alex Johann PO ’14 finished the 10K race in 32:04 (average mile pace of 5:09), good for third best in Division III nationwide for 2012. Perhaps more notably, Johann also etched his name in the PPTF all-time books, edging out former standout Adam Boardman for the ninth best 10K time in school history.

Asked about his method, Johann explained his calculated, cold-blooded approach.

“I knew the times I wanted to hit for every mile. So I ran them,” he said. 

In contrast to Johann’s hard numerical approach to the sport is junior jester Alex Johnson PZ ’13, who draws fitful passion for his racing from pop culture references and Twitter trends. He took us inside the frenzied last moments of his 5000-meter race.

“With 240 meters to go, a sort of mantra popped into my head – ‘you only live once, you only live once, yolo, yolo,” he said. Eccentric, maybe, but the inspiration guided Johnson to a time of 15:16 in the 5K, just a second behind his personal best, a mark he will look to shatter on his way to a sub-15 time later this year.

Other notable performances sprung from the heels of a pair of Iowa natives. Dominick Reinhold PO ’13 ran a personal best of 1:57.41 in the 800-meter race, and Pryor Stroud PO ’15 recorded a personal best in the 5K with a mark of 15:51.26.

The Distance Carnival also served as the second leg in a dual meet between Pomona-Pitzer and Occidental College, the third annual tete-a-tete competition between the two rivals, with a prized banner at stake. The March 9 event, also at Occidental, featured sprinting and field events.

Matt Sloane PO ’15 showed his disgust for losing with a victory in the 400-meter dash, completing the lap in 50.88 seconds.

The revamped throwing subunit proved the track team’s willingness to play a physical game, as a trio of arms claimed top spots in shot put, discus, and javelin. Next time you’re on Walker Beach on a sunny day, look out for the biceps of Garrett Bell PO ’14 (throwing the shot put 35’6’’), Dalton Bolger PO ’14 (discus for 114’ 5’’) and Chris Garnatz PO ’15 (javelin at 131’5’’).

The men’s side of PPTF lost to Occidental in a tooth-and-nail 69-66 finish. However, the women’s unit won 76-73, evening up the combined score at 142-142 and ensuring Pomona-Pitzer possession of the banner for six months of the next year.

Pomona-Pitzer resumes action this Saturday at Cal Lutheran for a dual meet against Cal Lutheran and Caltech.

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