It’s not every day that nearly every athlete of the men’s track and field team—both past and present—sets a new personal best, yet these past seven days have seen Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens, both old and new, do just that.
To start things off, the current crop of men’s track and field Sagehens competed against Occidental College, Whittier College, and the University of La Verne this past Saturday. While P-P did not actually score against Oxy due to some intricacies with the SCIAC dual meet set-up, athletes from each team went head-to-head, and the Hens usually came out on top.
Nowhere was this more evident than in the 1500-meter race where the Sagehens swept the top three spots and put five men in the top eight. Pryor Stroud PO ’15, John Fowler PO ’16, and Paul Picciano PO ’16 led their teammates across the line, breaking the tape in 4:06.60, 4:07.61, and 4:11.82, respectively. Stroud’s time was particularly impressive as he led from the gun and never relinquished the position.
The meet saw other strong performances in the 800-meter, where Dominick Reinhold PO ’13 negative split (ran the second lap faster than the first) his season debut at the distance, finishing the half-mile event in 1:59.32. Sagehens made strong statements in the 5000-meter, too: Ben Girodias PO ’15, for example, is only about four weeks removed from a debilitating ankle sprain, but he ran the 5k in a speedy 15:36.04.
The sprint squad offered highlights in Greg Hook’s PZ ’13 48.89 third place in the 400-meter, Matt Sloane’s PO ’15 200-meter run in 22.24 seconds, which was good for third place overall, and Matt Owen’s PZ ’13 12’7.25″ pole vault performance that put him at second in the standings of the day.
Meanwhile, between 24 and 48 hours later, Nike-sponsored alum Will Leer PO ’07 won both the 3000-meter and the mile race at the USA Indoor National Championships, held in Albuquerque, NM. On Sunday, Leer—sporting a moustache not unlike that of running legend Steve Prefontaine—used a dramatic finishing kick to move up from near the back of the pack and sneak away with the mile title in 3:58.79, a mere 0.11 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Craig Miller, a New Balance sponsored athlete. On Monday, Leer used drastically different tactics to handle the four-man field in the 3k. Given Albuquerque’s high altitude and inherent lack of oxygen, Leer was content to comfortably cruise along just off of the shoulder of first place for the first 13 laps of the 15-lap event. With approximately a minute remaining to run, he charged to the front and gapped the field by nearly nine seconds in less than 400 meters.
Such success does not come without lots of practice, and Leer has certainly had lots of practice when it comes to winning. While at Pomona, under then-Head Coach Pat Mulcahy, Leer was a four-time national champion, winning the indoor one-mile in 2006 and 2007 and becoming the first athlete to sweep the 1500 and the 5k national crowns outdoors in 2007. He was also a seven-time All American, multi-All-SCIAC selection, and school record holder in both the 800 and the 1500. His résumé certainly speaks highly for the potential success of the Sagehens as they look to move forward with the 2013 season.