After consistently placing high in meets throughout this season, the top seven men on the Pomona-Pitzer cross country team exhibited an impressive display of speed, depth, commitment and overall supremacy at the West Regional meet in Salem, Ore. on Nov. 10. Each runner shattered his previous personal record (PR), five Sagehens finished within the top 35 and the team placed second to qualify for the DIII National Championships in Terre Haute, Ind.
Alex Johnson PZ ’13 was the first Sagehen across the finish line, placing fourth in an eight-kilometer time of 24:41. Alex Johann PO ’14 and Ben Girodias PO ’15 worked together to place eighth and ninth in 24:50 and 24:51 respectively, while John Fowler PO ’16 ran a fantastic race to come in 15th with a time of 24:58. Before this meet, Fowler had not broken 26 minutes in an 8k, let alone 25.
Pryor Stroud PO ’15 rounded out the Sagehens’ top five in 33rd place and a time of 25:42. These five men earned All-Region honors for placing within the top 35.
David Erf PO ’13 finished close behind Stroud in 42nd place with a time of 25:55, and Corey Purcella PO ’16 placed 86th in 26:51.
The outstanding races run by each Sagehen earned the team 68 points, leaving them in second place behind the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags, who finished with 34 points. This team is the first group of P-P men to qualify for Nationals since 2005.
The runners approached the Regional meet positively, supported by their solid performances throughout the rest of the season.
“We simply knew if we continued to race like we had been, we had a good shot,” Girodias said.
This confidence allowed the men to remain calm, yet excited, going into the race. Naomi Wagner PO ’13, a member of the women’s PPXC team that also ran at Regionals, attributed the men’s success to their positive pre-race attitude and “good vibes.”
“Before the race, they were super pumped, but in a happy way, not in a psych-ourselves-out way,” Wagner said. She added that on the start line, compared with many more somber athletes, “our guys were bouncing around and still joking.”
This enthusiasm carried them through the course, and the Sagehens’ post-race joy was only amplified by their impressive second-place finish and numerous PRs.
“After the race, they were over the moon and through the roof,” Wagner said. “It was the best cheering they’ve done for us, because they were so excited.”
Upon the runners’ return to campus, Andrew Segraves PO ’16 summed up the team’s sentiments: “The future of PPXC is blindingly bright.”
Look for the Sagehens to dominate yet again at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17 at the DIII National Championships in Terre Haute, Ind.