The Bay Area was foggy last Saturday morning, but the sun still decided to smile down on the Pomona-Pitzer men’s cross country team as they made their way to the Stanford University Invitational in Palo Alto.
For the first road trip taken to a race in a few years (excepting NCAA Regionals and National Championships), the team as a whole was bubbling with excitement at the prospect of getting to run on a new course, in a new city, all while throwing down some fast times worthy of their recent West Region No. 1 and National No. 26 rankings.
“Being somewhat of a team historian, it’s come to my attention that it’s been years since the last PPXC roadtrip race,” team captain Paul Balmer PO ’12 said. “However, I think it’s an omen—we’re a new, better team this year, and I think it’s fitting that we mix up our schedule a little bit such that we get the opportunity to race in some cool, new places against stronger competition.”
Leaving campus on Friday morning to represent the team were 7 of PPXC’s finest: Balmer, Anders Crabo PO ’12, Colin Flynn PZ ’12, Alex Johnson PZ ’13, Alex Johann PO ’14, Ben Girodias PO ’15, and Pryor Stroud PO ’15.
Facing off against some of the best teams in the nation, including Division I powerhouses Stanford and UCLA, PPXC lined up and took off with the crack of a gun at 10:30 a.m. Whether it was by surging, accelerating around turns, or racing aggressively, the Sagecocks did everything in their power to advance their race position as the eight kilometers unfolded. The race concluded in less than half an hour, while the tension rose and fell among the spectators.
Led by Crabo (25:40), with Johnson (25:43) not far behind, PPXC fared well. With each of its runners breaking the tape in less than 27:20, the Hens proved to be the 13th best team there, first among Division III teams, and once again, victor over cross-campus rival CMS. Flynn, Johann, Balmer, and Stroud rounded out P-P’s scorers, crossing the finish line in 26:01, 26:09, 26:16, and 27:12 respectively.
Asked how the race went, Stroud said, “Well, personally, I might’ve gotten out a bit too aggressively, but it’s all a learning experience. I think this is us cementing our position as one of the best teams in the region and country, and certainly as a potential contender for the SCIAC [championship] cup.”
It would seem the US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) would agree. Rankings show that PP has maintained its No. 1 West Region ranking for the second straight week, and hasn’t deviated from its No. 26 national ranking. Needless to say, expect big things from PPXC in the future, beginning with their home invitational held this Saturday at the Wash at 7:45 a.m. If you find yourself suffering from a bout of insomnia Friday night, come join a new and improved PPXC, cheering “Aya Hens!” as they once again take on CMS and see new competition in their other SCIAC rivals.