Nationals on the Line For PPXC

The women of Pomona-Pitzer cross country have run hundreds of miles this summer and fall, but at the SCIAC Championships tomorrow, it will come down to just 3.7 miles. The pinnacle of the season has finally arrived, and the Lady Sagehens are ready and eager. Every member of the team will be racing to finish their season on a high note, while the scorers have the added pressure of vying for a flight to Oregon and a SCIAC place to be proud of.

The bulk of PPXC runs five races during the fall season. Each meet is an opportunity for the runners to don racing flats and compete baring the bold colors of blue and orange, but all previous races pale in comparison to SCIAC Champs. At the final conference showdown of the season, each runner will be at her peak, primed to do her best on the biggest stage SCIAC has to offer. SCIAC is the Big One, where final conference standings are determined and where SCIAC runners are given their last chance to prove themselves.

The official cross country season is only nine weeks in, but these ladies started training for the SCIAC Championships months ago. Over the summer, they traversed land in England and Guatemala, in the orchards of Washington and the mountains of Bozeman, all in preparation for the 2012 cross country season. In the backs of their minds was the knowledge that their pre-season efforts would pay off come SCIAC time.

When June and July finally turned into August, the team met for the first time on the steps of Rains. Behind the excited chatter of the first day of official practice was the anticipation of a promising season. In the subsequent weeks, the women conquered mountains and crossed streams. They ran numerous workouts around the Wash and more grass strides than they would like to count. They submerged themselves in icy water and worked their abs to exhaustion.

Amid these sun-soaked hours spent pounding the Claremont pavement, the team built community. They shared silly stories in aquajogging belts and giggled over Frary burritos and post-race brunch. As the season wore on, the team lost healthy runners to injuries, but those remaining gained strength with each race they ran.

Each finisher will complete the race tomorrow with a time and a place, but behind those two numbers are the countless hours they have spent training and bonding. The season will be over for most of the team tomorrow, and they hope their SCIAC performance will be representative of the considerable work they have put in since May.

“The hay is in the barn, as our coach likes to say,” Kaya LeGrand PO ’15 said. “The money’s in the bank. We’re ready to go.”

The West Regional meet will be held in two weeks in Salem, Ore., and the P-P women must place among the top three teams tomorrow for the athletic department to pay for their trip. A top-three finish seems likely for the Sagehens, but there is more at stake than just plane tickets.

Defeating Claremont-Mudd-Scripps will be next to impossible, but the Sagehens will face a formidable Occidental College team once again at SCIAC. A second-place finish would be a resounding success for the team and several runners are capable of earning first- and second-team All-SCIAC honors. These runners have certainly put in the work, and the SCIAC Championships will give them a chance to show what they are made of in the biggest race of the season.

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