Some of the finest collegiate and professional athletes in the world made the annual pilgrimage to Strehle Track for the 26th annual Pomona-Pitzer Invitational track meet last Saturday. Competitors were spotted up to a week in advance of the meet, training on the distinctive blue polymer track, some even daring to try their hand at a fabled P-P farm loop. The arrival of Olympians current (2008 decathlon gold medalist Bryan Clay) and former (1984 800m gold medalist Joaquim Cruz) lent an air of spectacle foreign to the daily routine of the P-P track team, whose long training hours through the shrub and sprawl of the Inland Empire are a far cry from the lights of the Santa Monica pier or the Beijing Olympics.
The stark ferocity typical of an SCIAC dual meet abated. No teeth were lost; only sincere words of encouragement between P-P, CMS and others as the SCIAC conference played the role of David to the world’s Goliath. In the meet, the P-P competitors landed more than one solid strike.
Greg Hook PZ ’14 won his heat of the 400m and finished with the third best time out of 45 runners, circumscribing the oval in 49.52 seconds and laying waste to competition from DI and abroad. The only runners to beat Hook were SCIAC runners themselves. Hook will look to snag his revenge on Kevin Curbelo of Whittier (48.10) and Chancise Watkins of La Verne (49.17) when they meet again at SCIAC prelims April 27.
In the 5K, a host of familiar names used the opportunity to set personal records. Alex Johnson PZ ’13, Alex Johann PO ’14, Pryor Stroud PO ’15, Paul Balmer PO ’12 and Ben Girodias PO ’15 all shaved time, the first four of those runners landing in the top twenty of a two-heat, 62-man field while Girodias finishing 27th after a suspicious stumble 600 meters before the finish line.
“[Stroud] and I were working together all race,” said a resilient Girodias. “Someone else in the [second] heat clearly got jealous when they saw P-P was going to finish a classic 1-2.”
The 1-2 finish, known as a “double dub,” was popularized two track seasons ago by current senior Balmer and alumnus Charlie Enscoe PO ’11. Fellow freshmen Stroud and Girodias have a full three more years to provide avid fans with this unique sort of entertainment.
Also representing the SCIAC conference were the fleet feet of CMS junior runner Rafer Dannenhauer, who clocked in at 14:56 for third-best at the meet and will look to scavenge a SCIAC title in the upcoming weeks.
Other noteworthy performances came from throwers Chris Garnatz PO ’15 and Garrett Bell PO ’14, two newcomers who have rapidly improved their marks over the course of the spring. Garnatz chucked the discus 125’ 11’’, a six-foot improvement. Bell heaved the hammer a distance of 117’ 1’’, upping his mark by just over nine feet. The two lead a young core of throwers who have provided this team with the chance to compete seriously in field events as well as on the track.
While the squad has a bye this weekend, they will compete at the SCIAC championship meet at Redlands April 27 and 28.