Last Saturday morning, as their peers stressed about last-minute touches to their Halloween costumes, the Pomona-Pitzer women had something else on their minds: the SCIAC Championships. Before braving the writhing masses in the South Campus parking structure, the PPXC ladies had to face a more composed, although perhaps equally scantily clad, crowd of fellow runners at Prado Park in the scenic Chino Hills.
For all but the top seven runners, Saturday’s race was the final competition of the season. The team earned third place with 103 points behind the strong squads from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Occidental College, a slightly disappointing finish after placing second at Multi-Duals. They managed to edge out Oxy at La Mirada but could not complete the feat again in the Championships. Overall, the Sagehens tied for second in the SCIAC, securing a spot for themselves at Regionals in Salem, Ore. on Nov. 10.
“We were happy to finish third and earn a trip to the NCAA West Regional meet in Oregon,” said Head Coach Kirk Reynolds. “We beat Oxy in the dual meets two weeks ago and wanted to do so again here, but Oxy ran very well, and we ran just okay.”
Camille Matonis PZ ’15 and Claire Brickson PO ’14 worked together throughout the race to finish first and second for P-P. Matonis finished the six-kilometer course in 24:19 with Brickson one second behind her. They finished in 15th and 16th places, earning them Second-Team All-SCIAC honors.
The Sagehens were thrilled to have Roxanne Cook PZ ’13 back among them after losing her to the theater department during Multi-Duals. Always a consistent performer, Cook was P-P’s third finisher with a time of 23:43, coming in 23rd place overall. Naomi Wagner PO ’13 crossed the finish line in 25:20 as the team’s fourth scorer, placing 31st among all runners.
Inspired by witnessing the thrilling performances of the PPXC men before her, Isabelle Ambler PO ’13 made a big jump to be the Sagehen’s fifth finisher. Her bold race earned her 32nd place, coming in a second behind Wagner. Behind Ambler, Molly Cole PO ’16 ran a time of 25:25, good for 35th place overall, and Ally McLaughlin PO ’16 came in 43th with a time of 25:46. Cassandra Owen PO ’14 and Lauren Collins PO ’15 also ran impressive races to finish eighth and ninth for PPXC, respectively.
“It felt great to end the season on a high note,” said Owen. “It was definitely a challenge, but I was able to keep pushing through the whole race.”
The team struggled without defending SCIAC champion Annie Lydens PO ’13 blazing the way for the rest of the Sagehens. Lydens sat out the race with a hip injury, but the prognosis looks promising, and, with luck, she will be back for Regionals in two weeks. The PPXC women were also weakened when the speedy Alicia Mizes PO ’16 was sidelined with a stress fracture after the P-P Invite at the end of September.
While many Sagehens ran strong races at SCIACs, the finishing times were nothing to brag about due to Prado Park’s slow conditions. The park’s smell is certainly striking, but the course’s difficulty is subtle. While there are no large hills, the course is composed chiefly of rolling hills of spongy grass that seems to absorb any momentum runners might build, and the uneven terrain makes it difficult to keep a steady pace.
For everyone except the top seven runners, SCIACs marked the last hurrah of the season. The Lady Hens have awoken before dawn, sweat through countless miles in the Wash, endured many aches and pains and have finally earned a break.
The top seven runners will have to keep their malt balls on the shelf for two more weeks until they return from Oregon. Reaching Regionals has been a team goal all season, and now they can enjoy where the work they have put in all year has taken them.
Reynolds predicts there are good things ahead for the team at Regionals.
“It’ll be cold, wet and miserable—perfect for cross country—but we have a team of battlers who will just focus on racing and nothing else,” he said.
If the Sagehens take advantage of the upcoming two weeks to sharpen their legs and gather their focus, successful races at Regionals are sure to follow.