One good thing seems to beget another, and so it went this weekend with the Pomona-Pitzer men’s track and field team.
Traveling to Occidental College this past Saturday, the Hens were up against the Tigers for the third installment of the annual P-P-Oxy dual meet, in which each squad is pitted against the other without any concerns for, distractions by, or interference from other teams. At stake was a banner that resides with the victorious team for the following year and a season’s worth of pride.
Things began quietly, with a few field events occurring while runners partaking in early events started warming up on the infield. However, these events started to gain attention from the sparse crowd, based largely on the performance of the P-P athletes. In particular, Joe Knight PO ’16 stood out for his feats in high jump as he needed only one attempt each at 1.73, 1.78, and 1.83 meters (6’0”) to win the event handily. Teammate Gabe Leggott PZ ’14 performed admirably as well, clearing 5’10” and finishing in a comfortable second, beating all the following jumpers by at least four inches.
Meanwhile, things on the track commenced with the crack of a gun, and the men’s 110-meter hurdlers tore off down the straightaway. Andrew Kolczynski PO ’16 mustered a second-place finish in 17.36 seconds. Titus VanHook PO ’15 decided he would be the one to set the tone for the meet as he won the next event, the men’s 100, with a time of 11.12 seconds.
Pryor Stroud PO ’15 maintained the team’s momentum with a 2:00.04 win in the 800-meters, leading the Sagehens to sweep the first three places and 11 of the top 12. Still, his performance raised some doubts.
“Stroud didn’t break 2 [minutes], likely because he encountered some unexpected wind in the first 100 meters,” David Erf PO ’13 said. “Obviously, this leaves a lot of us stymied as to whether he’ll ever have a more perfect opportunity to surpass this barrier.”
The highlight of the meet came not much later, as the Sagehens faced off against the Tigers in the 4×1600-meter relay hoping to come away with both the victory and a school record. Leading off with John Fowler PO ’16, the Hens led for much of the first 800 meters, only to be gapped by about 10 meters just before the first baton exchange, reached in about 4:29. Ben Girodias PO ’15 ran second and admirably held on to the Hens’ race position in spite of spending his 1600-meter leg racing alone.
Paul Picciano PO ’16 took the third leg, tasked with the daunting duty of gaining on the Tigers in preparation for Stroud’s anchor leg. Finishing his 1600 in 4:32, Picciano brought the crowd to its feet as he closed in on Oxy a few meters every lap until the Hens found themselves back in contention with only four laps to go and miler phenomenon Stroud with the baton. Striding hard, Stroud and the Oxy anchor ran shoulder-to-shoulder for much of the first half of their leg. However, with about 600 meters left, the Tigers made a strong move that found Stroud, fatigued from his 800-meter race two hours earlier, unable to respond.
The Oxy anchor broke the tape in a total time of 17:58, while Stroud powered home at 18:01—a time that, while not deserving the victory this day, still shattered the previous school record by 39 seconds. It was a performance that would have cemented Pomona’s victory over Occidental, were the 3000-meter steeplechase and 5000-meter race not to be contested this coming weekend at the Oxy Distance Carnival due to scheduling conflicts. Instead, P-P leads the Tigers by a score of 87 to 44 with only these two events remaining.
Other P-P victors of the day included Koczynski in the 400-meter hurdles (65.26 seconds), the 4×100-meter relay team that finished in 43.24 seconds, Matt Sloane PO ’15 in the 400-meter (50.10 seconds), Matt Owen PZ ’15 in the pole vault (13’0”), Bennett Kopperud PO ’16 in the triple jump (39’6”), Garret Bell PO ’14 in the shot put (40’10.25”), and Chris Garnatz PO ’14 in the discus (132’5”) and the javelin (156’8”).
Meanwhile, outside of Eagle Rock, Torrey Olson PO ’09, a Nationals qualifier in track at the 10,000-meter distance, found himself victorious as the assistant coach of The Academy of Art University men’s and women’s track and field teams. The women’s squad was the team national champions at the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships in Birmingham, Ala., and the men’s team boasted 15 All-Americans, indicating that P-P runners certainly have bright futures in front of them, both during this season and in future years.