The Pomona-Pitzer women’s track and field team defeated Whitter College but fell to the University of La Verne in their first conference match-up of the season. Last Saturday, the team competed at home against teams from Whittier, La Verne, Occidental College, and Chapman University, but P-P was only scored against La Verne and Whittier. While numerous Sagehens contributed to the Whittier victory, Ailene Nguyen PO ’16 stole the show in fluorescent spandex with her exceptional leaping. The rookie placed among the top two competitors in four individual events en route to setting a new school record in the triple jump.
“We competed hard, which was rewarding to see, I thought,” Head Coach Kirk Reynolds said of Saturday’s meet. “We had set a team goal of beating Whittier, and all event groups performed very well, as I’d hoped. I was especially pleased to see Ailene triple jump and long jump so well, so well indeed.”
Nguyen achieved a distance of 36’10.5” (11.24 meters) in her final jump of the day to break the previous school record of 36’3.5” set by Lisa Armstrong in 1985. Despite jumping on tired legs after competing in four previous events, Nguyen broke the school record in her third jump of 11.22 meters and again in her fifth jump. Both jumps were personal records for Nguyen as well.
“I had a terrible case of nerves before and during the meet, so I’m glad they manifested into something great,” Nguyen said of her historic day. “When I heard the distance in meters, I literally squeaked because it was a lot farther than I expected, and I ran over to the tape to convert it to feet since I’m used to measurements in feet.”
Nguyen’s record-setting jump earned her first place in the triple jump, and her long jump of 17’10.75” ranks as the number-three, all-time P-P mark and was good for first place as well. She also placed second in the 200-meter race and third in the 100-meter race with times of 26.47 seconds and 12.82 seconds, respectively. Breaking a 28-year-old school record earned Nguyen the title of SCIAC Athlete of the Week.
Nguyen’s performance also led Reynolds to name her the field athlete of the meet. Kaya LeGrand PO ’15 earned recognition on the track for her debut in the 3000-meter steeplechase. LeGrand finished the grueling race in 13:36.42, the 10th-fastest time in P-P history.
“In my first steeplechase race, I really just tried to focus on surviving,” LeGrand said. “The water jump is unmerciful, so I was mostly happy to finish the race with my sanity and dignity intact. Getting on the top-10 list was an added bonus.”
Nguyen was also part of the 4×100-meter relay team that took second place. Together, Katie Barton PO ’15, Leslie Rice PO ’16, Nguyen, and Joyce Nimocks PO ’15 covered the 400 meters in 50.39, the seventh-fastest relay time in P-P history.
Apart from Nguyen, Barton was the only other first-place finisher on Saturday. She took first place in the 400-meter hurdles and second place in the 100-meter hurdles. Her time of 1:06.23 in the 400-meter hurdle race was over three seconds faster than the closest competitor. Hanna Levin PO ’14 finished fifth behind Barton in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 17.38 seconds.
In the pole vault, Erin Delaria PO ’15 continued her streak of PRs with a personal best vault of 10’5.25”, the third-best height ever achieved by a Sagehen. In other field event news, Alex Oxborough-Yankus PZ ’14 finished fourth and third in the hammer throw and javelin, respectively, while Nimocks placed fourth in the shot put.
Several distance runners earned the Sagehens points as well. Isabelle Ambler PO ’13 finished second in the 800-meter with a time of 2:23.17 with Annie Lydens PO ’13 just behind in third and Stassja Sichko PO ’15 in fifth. Lydens also took second in the 1500-meter with a time of 4:53.37, while Claire Brickson PO ’14 took fourth. Brickson also ran the 5000-meter in 18:52.65, which was good for second place overall.
The Sagehens can look forward to a friendly dual meet against Occidental next week. Although the meet’s results will not affect the team’s 1-1 SCIAC record, the athletes will get a chance to compete in unusual events, such as the lengthy 4×1600-meter relay.