Cross-country racing is usually a solitary effort. After runners leave the sanctuary of the starting line, they are often left on their own in a sea of hostile opponents. At the Pomona-Pitzer Invite last Saturday, however, the P-P women’s cross country team prevailed by sticking together.
The P-P women ran in a pack for most of the six-kilometer race, and at the finish line, a mere 11 runners and 15 seconds separated the first and fifth P-P runners. They placed fourth out of eleven teams, second only to CMS among the eight SCIAC teams competing.
Camille Matonis PZ ’15 ran a tough race to finish first for the Sagehens. She came in 22nd place overall, crossing the line in 23:34.
“We’ve had a close pack running workouts together, and on Saturday we were able to bring that mentality to our racing,” Matonis said.
Claire Brickson PO ’14, Alicia Mizes PO ’16 and Roxanne Cook PZ ’13 all ran within four seconds of Matonis, finishing in 23rd, 26th and 29th place, respectively. Molly Cole PO ’16 finished with a fast last mile to round out the top five in a time of 23:49, good for 34th place.
The Hens’ depth continued after the five scorers. Naomi Wagner PO ’13 ran a strong race despite nagging foot pain, with Ally McLaughlin PO ’16 close behind. Tasha Block PO ’14 and Annie Niehaus PO ’14 also ran impressive races.
P-P’s home cross country course is deceptively demanding. It is full of hairpin turns, abrupt inclines and unsteady footing, and the three identical loops can weary even the most resilient of runners. Buoyed by spirited spectators, though, the PPXC women were able to stay strong. They have logged countless miles in their beloved “Wash,” and this experience helped them focus during the toughest parts of the race.
“It felt really great to be racing at home,” Block said. “It gave me an extra spark knowing I was racing on sacred ground.”
The cross country women hope that their camaraderie can continue to give them a boost in the future.
“We’ll need to continue to pack runners in close together if we want to achieve our team goals for the season,” Head Coach Kirk Reynolds said. “Plus, getting Annie Lydens back into the number-one position will only make us stronger.”
Perpetual P-P frontrunner Annie Lydens PO ’13 could not finish the race due to a pulled gluteus muscle, but she will be back in action this weekend at a Nationals preview race in Indiana. With Lydens leading the charge, the PPXC women look to build upon their success in their upcoming SCIAC races.