Barton Shines in P-P Invitational

School records and personal bests ruled the day last Saturday as the Pomona-Pitzer women’s track and field team put forth one of its strongest efforts so far this season.

Katie Barton PO ’15 stole the spotlight, running 62.80 in the 400-meter hurdles to break the former P-P record of 62.81 set in 1987. Since running a 63 at the SCIAC meet last year, Barton has been aiming to take down the school record.

“It’s definitely been one of my goals for the season, and it’s nice to be running as well as I want to be. Breaking it was a little overwhelming—the best race of my life, on our home track, with my parents and friends watching—it was a lot to take in. I might have started crying if I hadn’t been trying so hard not to throw up. It’s pretty cool—someday, someone is going to look at my name on the record board and wonder who I was,” Barton said.

Barton placed sixth overall, third among college athletes, and first among Division III runners. She is currently ranked first in SCIAC and ninth among all NCAA DIII 400-meter hurdlers.

“Katie’s hurdle race certainly was a highlight of the day for us,” Head Coach Kirk Reynolds said. “She’s been working so hard this year, and she really earned the school record. The old record was very strong and had been on the books since 1987.”

Barton’s teammates shared Reynolds’s enthusiasm.

“Katie’s my hero. My hurdle hero,” Claire Brickson PO ’14 said. “She was just as savage and terrifyingly impressive on Saturday as the Sagehen skull on the Po-Pit Invite t-shirts.”

Brickson had a breakout race herself, running a new personal best of 18:12.42 in the five-kilometer race. She placed seventh overall and first among DIII competitors. Brickson’s performance bumped her up to ninth in the SCIAC 5k standings. Naomi Wagner PO ’13 also clocked a 5k personal record of 18:47.85 in her last home meet as a Sagehen.

More excitement came from the three-kilometer steeplechase, as Isabelle Ambler PO ’13 stepped up to the line with minimal experience. Having trained for shorter races all season and having practiced running over the steeple barriers in only one workout, Ambler ran a 11:43.97, just two seconds off the school record of 11:41.73.

“Isabelle’s steeplechase was also a terrific highlight,” Reynolds said. “She had never gone over the water jump with actual water, or with other people surrounding her, so I was a bit concerned as she went into it the first time. But she handled it just like she handles everything else: with athleticism, grace, and aplomb.”

While P-P runners had a great day on the track, the Sagehens also finished well in the field events. Alex Oxborough-Yankus PZ ’14 threw 131’1” in the hammer to achieve a new personal best. She also threw 101’7” in the javelin. Ellen Yamasaki PZ ’15 broke 100 feet in the discus for the second week in a row, throwing 102’11”. Ailene Nguyen PO ’16 placed fifth out of 51 competitors in the long jump, jumping 17’8.75”, and she also achieved 35’2.5” in the triple jump.

Coming off a meet full of personal bests, the team will now set its sights on the SCIAC Championships.

“Now we look ahead to the conference championhip meet, which will be the peak of our season,” Reynolds said. “We’ve been working hard all spring, and we’ve been putting in hard training sessions leading up to this point. The SCIAC Champs will be very competitive and difficult in all events, but I know our team will approach their events knowing they’ve worked hard and knowing they’re ready to compete.”

The Sagehens will rest this weekend, but they will be back in action at the SCIAC Championships at Occidental College on April 26 and 27.

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