Cross country races can be bewildering to the uninitiated. It is a team sport, but there are no goals scored and no apparent strategy other than running quickly. The Pomona-Pitzer women’s cross country team is a top SCIAC contender, and it is worth unraveling their mystery as they head into their first SCIAC competition today.
The PPXC women have a deep team of talented veterans and newcomers. Only the top five finishers contribute toward the team score, but the team has many strong runners, which has helped them place well despite missing team members due to injuries.
Since she ran her first college cross country race in 2010, Annie Lydens PO ’13 has led the charge for the PPXC women. She is a smart, driven runner, and no one on the team has been able to touch her. She is a three-time All-American, two-time West Regional champion, and she holds the school record in the six-kilometer race—21:02.
Lydens has been suffering from a nagging hip injury lately, and it remains to be seen what this means for the rest of her season. She is a fierce competitor, however, and her speed and experience racing in high-pressure situations will be invaluable to the Sagehens, regardless of her injury.
Another senior with considerable experience, Roxanne Cook PZ ’13, has been a top runner for the Sagehens throughout her college career. Her background as a middle-distance runner gives her speed, which can help her out-kick competitors at the end of a race. She is a very consistent runner and can be depended on to perform well in big races.
Naomi Wagner PO ’13 brings valuable leadership to the PPXC women’s team. Also a senior, Wagner is a dependable, knowledgeable presence on a team with many young runners. Although she has been troubled by a season off and plantar fasciitis, she has run very well at past SCIAC races and will be a key asset for the Sagehens.
Claire Brickson PO ’14 is another experienced runner who promises to place well for the Sagehens. After being sidelined for the SCIAC races last season, Brickson is determined to make this season count.
After missing the majority of last year’s cross country season due to injury, Camille Matonis PZ ’15 has been a welcome surprise. Her strength and formidable finishing kick led her to be the first Sagehen finisher at the P-P Invite two weeks ago. She has already proven that she has talent, and there is no knowing what more she is capable of.
Molly Cole PO ’16 has been a refreshing addition to the Sagehen top seven. Spunky and optimistic, Cole has not let a nasty case of shin splints hold her back. She has finished well in every race so far, and now that she is healthy, her long legs will undoubtedly take her far.
Ally McLaughlin PO ’16 is another freshman likely to place in P-P’s top seven. As a multi-sport athlete, her level head and competitiveness will likely help her perform well when it counts.
The PPXC team suffered a serious blow two weeks ago when Alica Mizes PO ’16, who had placed among the team’s top three for the first three races of the season, was diagnosed with a stress fracture, the runner’s worst nightmare. Although her enthusiastic cheering will inspire her teammates in the tough races ahead, her absence on the starting line will be felt.
Apart from Lydens, the rest of the PPXC women’s front group is capable of running together. 6k cross country races can be grueling, and a pack of teammates to run with is often helpful. If one runner is struggling during a race, having teammates nearby to urge her on can make the difference between a bad race and a decent performance.
With this exciting group of both young and veteran Hens, the P-P women’s cross country team is in good position going into the biggest races of the season. Their previous meets had no bearing on SCIAC standings, but their performances in their next two races will determine where they place in the SCIAC.
This afternoon, the PPXC women will face off against the best the SCIAC has to offer in Multi-Duals at La Mirada Park. The hills will be steep and the competition cutthroat, but with this team’s potent combination of speed and camaraderie, Sagehen glory is within reach.