The Pomona-Pitzer track athletes will make their much-anticipated debut this Saturday at the P-P All-Comers meet. While the home meet is not scored, it will be the first opportunity for the P-P tracksters to flex their competitive muscle against outside opponents. Both the men’s and women’s teams have looked strong in preseason, and Saturday will provide the first taste of what they can expect for the rest of the year.
The All-Comers meet draws teams from several SCIAC schools and junior colleges in the area, and elite athletes in the area often show up as well.
“We usually have about 700-800 athletes at this meet, and it’s a great opportunity for a rust-buster for everyone,” said Women’s Head Coach Kirk Reynolds. “Some of our athletes haven’t competed since cross country, some haven’t competed since last track season, and our frosh need to get in the mix to realize that they can do just fine wearing a new P-P jersey in college competition.”
The men’s and women’s track teams both have many talented returning athletes whose experience should help them get off to a strong start. On the women’s side, Annie Lydens PO ’13 is healthy again and looking to make her mark in her last season of collegiate running. She finished second in the five-kilometer race at Nationals as a sophomore, and if she stays injury-free, she will likely achieve track greatness again this spring. On the shorter end of racing, hurdle hero Katie Barton PO ’15 looks to be another point-earner for the Sagehens this year. In the SCIAC finals last year, Barton dropped a whopping two seconds off her 400-meter hurdle time to place third and run the fastest time of any Sagehen in this century. The resident P-P women’s throws specialist, Alex Oxborough-Yankus PZ ’14, will also be lending her strength to the Sagehens again this year.
“I anticipate a strong team this spring,” Reynolds said. “We have some wily veterans, and we have some terrifically talented newcomers on the team, and I’m excited to see everyone compete.”
While the men’s track team will miss the presence of Nationals qualifier Anders Crabo PO ’12 this season, many accomplished distance runners will return to the team. Alex Johnson PZ ’13 and Pryor Stroud PO ’15 are both strong SCIAC contenders in the 5k, and the Sagehens have depth in the throwing events as well. Several top-10 SCIAC finishers are returning, including Garrett Bell PO ’14 and current swimmers Chris Garnatz PO ’15 and Peter Ianelli PO ’15. Returning sprinter Greg Hook PZ ’14 should also make an impact for the Sagehens this year.
Along with their stalwart veterans, both the men’s and women’s teams have a bright crop of newcomers. Nearly half of the 42 athletes on the men’s team were not present on last year’s roster, and 10 of the 26 athletes on the women’s team are new to P-P track. These rookies have shown great promise early in the season, and the All-Comers meet will be an excellent opportunity to measure their mettle.
With 19 different events in a typical track meet, team size matters. Only four or five years ago, the men’s team was forced to forfeit events because they could not fill spots, but the large group of new athletes this year should help the team be more competitive.
“With so many newcomers to the program, there is a great deal of teaching occurring at each and every practice,” said Men’s Head Coach Tony Boston. “Athletes are either learning our system of training and/or being introduced to events for the very first time. In just a few short weeks of preseason training, these first-year track athletes have demonstrated great potential in their respective events. I wouldn’t be surprised if several of these guys achieve All-Conference status this year.”
Both newcomers and veterans are looking forward to Saturday’s competition. Its relaxed atmosphere allows athletes to get into the swing of competing without the pressure that comes later in the season.
“The All-Comers meet is more about experience than making times,” Barton said. “Nobody expects to break any records. It’s just a good way to get back into the rhythm of track and start working toward your goals for the season.”
Many P-P athletes, including Barton, have the added incentive of the meet taking place over Pomona College Family Weekend. For many students, including Barton, Family Weekend is one of the few opportunities their relatives have to witness their offspring’s athletic prowess at the collegiate level.
“My parents like to come watch me run,” she said. “They didn’t miss a meet in high school, but it’s harder now that I’m away from home.”
Students looking to scope out the P-P track and field teams, hoping to witness the inevitable blunders that come with the first meet of the season, or just need to let loose with some raucous cheering can head down to Strehle Track on Pomona’s campus on Saturday. Field events start at 10:30 a.m., track events begin at 11:40 a.m., and the meet should last into the late afternoon.