P-P Men’s Cross Country Finishes Strong at Stanford Invitational

The Pomona-Pitzer men’s cross country team traveled north to run in the eight-kilometer Stanford Invitational, placing sixth out of 16 non-Division I teams in Palo Alto last Saturday, Sept. 28.

Ben Girodias PO ’15 placed 60th overall with an eight-kilometer time of 26:15, once again pacing the Sagehens even after several consecutive 100-mile training weeks. John Fowler PO ’16 followed just five seconds behind Girodias to finish in 69th place.

Alex Johann PO ’14 and Steven Ory PO ’16 finished third and fourth for the Hens with times of 26:39 and 26:48, respectively. The next group of Sagehens finished in a tight pack, with Pryor Stroud PO ’15, Paul Messana PZ ’17, and Charlie Watson PO ’17 all finishing with times between 26:57 and 27:01, placing 115th, 117th, and 118th, respectively. Adam Hathaway, the final P-P runner, crossed the finish line six seconds later.

“The Stanford Invitational was a good meet for the team. It gave the team an opportunity to race against a large and very talented field of runners. While we have good local meets to attend, there is just no substitute for the competitive experience offered at a meet of this caliber,” Head Coach Tony Boston wrote in an e-mail to TSL.

Fowler agreed with Boston’s assessment of the meet.

“The race went pretty well for the team considering how hard our recent workouts have been. It was a lot of fun going head-to-head against some of the top talent in the nation. We still have a lot to work on between now and the end of the season, though,” Fowler said.

Boston also commented on several outstanding individual performances.

“It was encouraging to see John Fowler and Steven Ory running so well. John entered the season with a slight injury and is just getting into a good rhythm of training and racing. Once John is back in shape he is going to be a real force at the conference and regional level,” Boston said. “Steve has been a solid competitor this season … After a quality summer of training, he has been a [top five] runner in the last two meets. I’ve always had faith in his ability to be a strong contributor, and this year is definitely proving that he is a key runner for PPXC.”

The men’s and women’s teams will host the P-P Invitational this Saturday, Oct. 5, an exciting moment during the difficult mid-season training weeks. Both the six-kilometer and 8k courses are spectator-friendly as they wind around and through the soccer fields, track, and the Wash.

This year’s course is slightly different from previous years—each loop is lengthened, which cuts down the total number of loops each runner has to complete.

“At first glance the course changes seem confusing, but hopefully that will translate to a more interesting route. Regardless, we’re stoked to run on our home course, and it’s great for spectators, so all the PPXC fans out there should be excited too,” Claire Brickson PO ’14 said.

Brickson’s teammates echoed her enthusiasm. 

“I mean, we got to rock some knee brace prototypes during our runs this week, so how could this weekend go poorly?” Stassja Sichko PO ’15 said.

At last year’s P-P Invite, Brickson and Camille Matonis PZ ’15 were among the top 10 Division III runners in the 6k. On the men’s side, Girodias and Johann placed second and third among Division III competitors at the 2012 home meet, finishing behind teammate Alex Johnson PZ ’13. The Sagehens hope to have a similarly strong showing at this year’s race.

This weekend, the men’s team is planning to “mix it up and go with a more aggressive racing strategy” according to Boston, which will certainly set the scene for an action-packed race.

P-P will also host NCAA West Regionals Nov. 16, so the race this weekend will give runners a chance to test out their home course in a lower-stakes competition. The gun for the men’s 8k goes off at 7:45 a.m., and the women’s 6k begins at 8:30 a.m.

As women’s Head Coach Kirk Reynolds suggested, “Just zip down to the blue track on Saturday morning and check out some great running competition. We’re excited to see many of our conference competitors in this race, and it’ll be a great preview for the NCAA West Regional meet.”

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