PUB may have been on hiatus recently, but the Pomona-Pitzer men’s track and field team has enjoyed no such break. Just last weekend, the Hens found themselves in Eagle Rock starting at 8:30 a.m. for a dual meet against the University of Redlands, Occidental College, and California Lutheran University.
As one of the final obstacles between the regular and championship seasons, Saturday’s competition offered teams one last opportunity to determine their level of fitness and identify any weaknesses that need addressing before SCIAC finals, to be held April 26 and 27. In the Sagehens’ case, it offered one final confidence boost before season’s end.
Things started on the field, where throwers and jumpers alike distinguished themselves. In the horizontal jumps, Bennett Kopperud PZ ’16 led the way, triple jumping 39 feet and 3.25 inches on his way to a third-place finish. Meanwhile, Garrett Bell PO ’14 demonstrated his exceptional versatility, competing in the discus, the shot put, and the hammer throw, throwing the latter 133 feet for third place. Perhaps most exciting, however, was the high jump.
Joe Knight PZ ’16 pushed last year’s SCIAC high jump champion, Darron Usher of Redlands, to his limits as they traded clearance after clearance until they had separated themselves from the rest of the field. A high school phenom who had previously cleared 6’ 8” but has been hampered a bit this year by a major change to his jumping form, Knight drew repeated gasps from the crowd as he and Usher first soared over 6 feet, then 6’ 2”, and finally 6’ 4.75”. However, Knight would have a bit of bad luck as he just barely dislodged the bar at 6’ 6.75”, opening the door for Usher to come away with the victory. Nonetheless, both he and other Sagehens were excited about his performance, the great competition they had witnessed, and Knight’s prospects for a great showing at SCIACs.
Meanwhile, on the track, the runners were doing their thing. Hindered slightly by unadulterated sun and warm temperatures, the harriers of P-P still put up some impressive numbers. Greg Hook PZ ’14 was as consistent as ever, running 49.81 seconds over 400 meters; the time is his second sub-50 second performance in the past two weeks. In the men’s five-kilometer race, the distance squad displayed their dominance as they claimed four of the top six places, including a first-place finish by Ben Girodias PO ’15 in 15:29.77 after making a huge move that put him 30 meters in front of the field at the two-kilometer mark, and second by Alex Johnson PZ ’13 in 15:36.30.
Perhaps most impressive, though, was the men’s 1500-meter race. Like the high jump, it also proved to be quite the showing for spectators as three P-P runners worked hard together to take two of the top three and three of the top six spots. In an effort to set up a perfect race for top miler Pryor Stroud PO ’15, John Fowler PO ’16 led hard from the gun, while distance guru Girodias charged hard in the middle laps. All of this meant that Stroud was able to tuck in comfortably for the first three quarters of the race, finally emerging on the back stretch with a strong kick the pulled him into second place behind Oxy’s Colin Smith—a place where he would remain until crossing the finish line in 4:01.69, a mark that matches his previous best.
The day was lastly capped off with a huge exclamation point for the Hens. Down by mere points to Cal Lu, the men’s 4×400-meter relay was the team’s last opportunity to come away with a win and crucial points for their final standing in the conference. Conference standings are determined by a point-based system where points are earned for a team’s regular season record and its finishing place at the championship meet. The team with the most points is declared SCIAC team champion, and in the event of a tie, the team that performs better at the championship meet is awarded the honor.
At the crack of the starting gun, people lined the track, wondering anxiously who would come away with the coveted win. Unfortunately, however, the answer—unlike many others on Saturday—didn’t come by way of a fantastic race. As fate would have it, in spite of being evenly matched with the Cal Lu relay team, the Sagehens swept all five possible relay points when their opponents dropped the baton on the first exchange.
P-P emerged victorious by a score of 82-77 and now holds a 5-3 record moving into SCIAC finals. This record and the associated two team standing points that come with it, combined with the strong showings the Sagehens have exhibited all season long, certainly bode well for the SCIAC finals at Occidental. Before then, be sure to watch the Hens compete at their annual home invitational this Saturday at Strehle Track.
The final conference competition before SCIAC Championships, Saturday’s meet was even more crucial because victories over opposing teams in dual meets help determine one’s final standing in the conference come season’s end. Scoring for the SCIAC Championships works such that teams earn points based on their regular season record at conference meets. These points, the difference in conference wins and losses, ranging from zero to a maximum of four, with a better record resulting in more points, are then added to the points earned at the championship meet, where scoring is awarded such that the first-place team earns eight points, the second-place team earns seven, and the points go down until the last-place team earns one. Final conference standing is then determined by who has the most points and, in the event of a tie, by who performed better at the championship meet.