The Pomona-Pitzer men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled to the ever-fragrant Prado Park in nearby Chino to compete in the annual SCIAC Championships Saturday, Nov. 2. The men took second place in the meet, just six points behind Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, to secure second place in the final SCIAC standings while the women finished fourth.
On the men’s side, Ben Girodias PO ’15 and John Fowler PO ’16 earned First-Team All-SCIAC honors by placing fourth and sixth out of 139 runners. Girodias ran 26:01 in the eight-kilometer race, and Fowler ran 26:13. John Guzman, a junior from Occidental College, won the race in 25:30.
Corey Purcella PO ’16, Alex Johann PO ’14, and Steven Ory PO ’16 placed within ten seconds of each other in 14th, 16th, and 19th to round out the group of Sagehen scorers. These three places were good for Second-Team All-SCIAC honors. Ory showed the most improvement from last year; his time of 26:57 was a minute and 45 seconds faster than last year’s, and he jumped from 59th place last year to 19th this year.
The men will get another chance to fight for a victory over CMS at the NCAA West Regional meet held on their home course on Nov. 16, although the group of seven runners who will compete at Regionals has yet to be determined. P-P was six points behind CMS at the SCIAC Championships and just three points behind them at Multi-Duals.
“We had a pretty good showing against some strong competitors at SCIACs this year,” Fowler said of the team’s performance at Prado. “Hopefully we can build off this for another quality race at Regionals in a couple weeks.”
Girodias’s comments on the SCIAC Championship race suggest that he is also looking for improvement between now and Regionals, and he is optimistic about the team’s chances at the meet.
“It was a close race where every place was crucial. I am excited for the chance to compete again at Regionals. With a few minor changes, I think we can win a Regional title,” he said.
Before their race, the women were reminded by head coach Kirk Reynolds that “the hay is in the barn, money’s in the bank,” inspirational words that ran through their minds as they dodged hidden holes in Prado’s spongy grass. The team finished fourth after CMS, Occidental, and California Lutheran University. Melissa Skiba of Cal Lutheran won the six-kilometer race in a time of 23:02.
Maya Weigel PO ’17 finished first for the Sagehens, running 24:12 to place 12th out of 118 runners. Claire Brickson PO ’14 followed closely behind in 13th place with a time of 24:15, and Camille Matonis PZ ’15 ran 24:28 for 16th place. Weigel, Brickson, and Matonis all earned Second-Team All-SCIAC honors.
Alicia Mizes PO ’16 placed 24th in a time of 24:58, and Lauren Collins PO ’15 rounded out the group of Sagehen scorers in 34th place and a time of 25:16. These five individuals, along with Molly Cole PO ’16 and Ally McLaughlin PO ’16, will run at Regionals next weekend.
“We ran well overall, but didn’t quite achieve the team goals we were striving for. We wanted to maintain our third place standing in SCIAC and give the second place team a good run, but fell short. Now we’re looking forward to a strong showing at the NCAA West Regionals on our home course,” Reynolds said. “We know every turn and every root on the course. Throw in some runners from teams we don’t normally see, and we’ll need to be in top form to do well. I know we can!”
The meet at Prado was a bittersweet moment for the seniors on the team, including Annie Niehaus PO ’14, whose race at the SCIAC Championships finished off a decade of running cross country.
“It’s a tough course and there were moments when I thought the thick swampy grass may engulf me, but then I remembered that this was my last race after a decade of running cross country, so I’d like to see the grass try,” Niehaus said.
After never missing a cross country meet in her ten years of running, Cassandra Owen PO ’14, who placed 45th last Saturday and was the Sagehens’ eighth finisher, summarized the entire team’s feelings toward running.
“Hell of a season to top off a decade of running and racing just because we can, of being in shape with the seasons, of regimen and playtime worked so wonderfully together, and of celebrating every moment of it with fantastic groups of girls,” said Owen, “It’s heavy stuff and [it] hasn’t quite hit me yet that it’s over.”
The Sagehens will run at the NCAA West Regional meet on the P-P course next Saturday, Nov. 16. The women’s race is at 9 a.m. and the men’s race begins at 10 a.m.