The Pomona-Pitzer men’s and women’s cross country teams impressed at the first true conference meet of the season, the SCIAC Multi-Duals at nearby La Mirada Park Oct. 18. The men’s team placed second overall, while the women’s team placed third.
On the men’s side, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps placed first with 26 points—only three points ahead of P-P—with ten runners finishing within the top 25. Zorg Loustalet HM ’16 won the race with an eight-kilometer time of 25:24.
Ben Girodias PO ’15 and John Fowler PO ’16 went back and forth throughout the race for P-P, ultimately placing fifth and sixth in 26:13 and 26:15, respectively. Corey Purcella PO ’16 and Adam Hathaway PO ’17 also placed close together in the 12th and 13th spots overall with times of 26:47 and 26:49 to finish third and fourth, respectively, for the Sagehens.
Hathaway is optimistic about the team’s chances at the SCIAC Championships next weekend.
“I thought the race went really well,” Hathaway said. “It was a tough course and I had never run there before, but I think I definitely made the most of it. As a freshman, it really helps having a lot of older guys on my team to run with. After this meet, I’m really looking forward to SCIACs because it’s shown that we definitely have a shot at winning the team championship.”
Pryor Stroud PO ’15 was right behind Purcella and Hathaway to round out the group of P-P scorers, running 26:52 to place 15th overall. Stroud ran nearly a minute faster than his 2012 Multi-Duals time and jumped up 17 places from last year.
Sheridan Grant PO ’15 also had a solid race, finishing ninth among P-P runners in 28:20, 42 seconds faster than his time last year. Echoing his teammates’ previous thoughts regarding the team’s performance, Grant commented on the race at Multi-Duals: “In a word, we were fleet; fleet as the graceful cheetah. And just as that lithe predator stalks the unsuspecting antelope and brings it definitively to its demise, so did PPXC suddenly and swiftly defeat their SCIAC rivals,” Grant said.
CMS also won the women’s team title as their top five finishers all placed within the top ten. Occidental College took second as a team, and senior Melissa Skiba of California Lutheran University placed first individually with a six-kilometer time of 21:35.
First to cross the line for P-P was Claire Brickson PO ’14, who placed seventh overall with a time of 22:29. Maya Weigel PO ’17 followed in 10th place with 22:48. The rest of the scoring Sagehens were relatively spread out, with Camille Matonis PZ ’15 placing 21st, Lauren Collins PO ’15 in 28th, and Ally McLaughlin PO ’16 in 32nd. Collins ran a personal record (PR) of 23:37, one minute faster than her previous record and a minute and 35 seconds faster than her Multi-Duals time last year.
Several other Sagehens also ran significantly faster on Friday than at last year’s Multi-Duals. Cassandra Owen PO ’14 dropped her time by 29 seconds, Annie Niehaus PO ’14 and Stassja Sichko PO ’15 both ran over a minute faster this year, and Kim Oña-Ayala PO ’16 ran 29 seconds faster. Sichko’s time of 25:20 was a new PR, a minute and 11 seconds faster than her previous record. Owen’s time was also a PR, 29 seconds faster than her previous best time.
These quick times occurred on a relatively hilly course, unlike most of the other flat Southern California courses that the Sagehens run throughout the season. While the course is a challenge, many P-P runners appreciated the change of terrain at La Mirada and were able to take advantage of the rolling hills.
“As a toe runner, I love courses where you can charge the hills, and La Mirada certainly offers that!” McLaughlin said.
Beth Hansen PO ’15 shared McLaughlin’s positive outlook toward the meet.
“It was a hard, hilly course, but we had a lot of people do really well, improve their times from last year a lot. It was really great to see a lot of my teammates do their best and shine,” Hansen said after the race.
The Sagehens will race in the SCIAC Championships in Prado Park next Saturday, Nov. 2, and the top seven runners from the men’s and women’s teams will continue on to run at the NCAA West Regional meet on their home course Nov. 16.