At Rossi Relays last Saturday, the Pomona-Pitzer women’s track team proved that while they may be small in number, the team is one of the best that has come through P-P in a long time. The meet, hosted by Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, gave the team a unique opportunity to compete against powerful Division I schools such as the University of Southern California and University of California, San Diego, and the Sagehens rose to the occasion. Though the modest P-P tent was parked in the shadow of USC’s behemoth, the P-P women held their ground on the track and came out with many impressive performances, including a school record 4×800-meter relay.
Heading into the meet, the members of the P-P women’s 4×800-meter relay team were keenly aware that they had just one shot at a school record. They had long ago identified the record of 9:50.98, set in 2010, as one that was capable of falling, but the relay meet hosted by CMS would be their only chance to climb to the top of the P-P charts.
“Going into the race, the lyrics to ‘Lose Yourself’ kept going through my mind,” said Isabelle Ambler PO ’13, the second runner on the relay team. “We literally had one moment and didn’t want to blow it.”
Fueled by dreams of Sagehen glory, Annie Lydens PO ’13 got the Sagehens off to a solid start, handing the baton off to Ambler in third place. Spurred on by the sage words of Eminem in her head and a baton in her hand, Ambler ran her two laps around the track with confidence, despite the fact that it was only her second time running the distance. Her unofficial split was a stellar 2:23, paving the way for the relay to break the school record with ease. Stassja Sichko PO ’15 ran another great leg in third position, and, with help from the first three runners, Claire Brickson PO ’14 was able to glide through the finish line in third place. Their official finishing time was 9:43.53, seven seconds faster than the previous school record.
“I was pleased with the 4×800 team’s mark,” Head Coach Kirk Reynolds said. “To run faster than any team at P-P is a great achievement. They all worked very hard in their two-lap legs, but Isabelle had the fastest split of the day at 2:23.”
Before the Sagehens got their chance to rewrite the record books, each member of the 4×800-meter relay team had to run a leg of the distance medley relay, known to track aficionados as the DMR. The DMR is a thrilling event, although somewhat unusual, as each member of the relay runs a different distance. The lead-off runner runs 1200 meters, the next runner 400 meters, and the third 800 meters, while the anchor leg runs a full 1600 meters.
P-P’s “A” DMR team of Brickson, Leslie Rice PO ’16, Ambler, and Lydens placed eighth overall with a time of 12:55.61, the fourth-fastest in school history. The “B” team of Lauren Collins PO ’15, Joyce Nimocks PO ’15, Kaya LeGrand PO ’15, and Naomi Wagner PO ’13 finished in 13:44.73, 17th place overall.
The 4×100-meter relay team of Katie Barton PO ’15, Rice, Ailene Nguyen PO ’16, and Nimocks delivered an electrifying performance in the shortest relay race run on the track. Although an unlucky handoff lost them first place in the second heat, the women looked extremely competitive against the other SCIAC teams in their race. Their final place against D-I teams in the first heat could not be determined due to a timing mishap.
From the individual events, Erin Delaria PO ’15 had an outstanding performance in the pole vault. She managed to clear 10’2”, the third-best height ever achieved by a Sagehen. Her personal record height earned her 10th place overall, and if her strong performances in practice are any indication, it is only a matter of time before Delaria vaults to even higher heights.
“I felt good jumping at 10’2” and wish I could have had more than one attempt at 10’6”. I feel like I could have gone higher. It was exciting to see some good vaulters from schools we don’t get to see in SCIAC,” Delaria said of her Rossi experience.
Nguyen also achieved a personal best in the long jump, jumping 17’3.75”, although she remains in the fourth spot on the P-P all-time best list. Her jump earned her sixth place, and her time of 12.73 seconds in the 100-meter dash was good for 12th place.
Barton also hurdled well at the meet, placing 15th in the 100-meter hurdles and eighth in the 400-meter hurdles.
The bold performances at Rossi Relays should give the Sagehens confidence going into their first SCIAC competition on Saturday.
“We have a home conference meet this weekend, and we’ll be looking for our athletes to do multiple events to help the team score against Whittier and La Verne,” Reynolds said. “This meet is all about the team, so individual marks will be less important than contributing to our overall team effort. I’m looking forward to it.”