The Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens opened the track and field season on Feb. 15 with a strong showing at the annual All Comers Meet hosted at Pomona College’s Strehle Track. Both the men and women had multiple top-five finishes at the meet, where college teams and unattached athletes come to compete and no points are awarded. Although the day was hotter than most of the team preferred, many members of both the men’s and women’s teams had notable performances, boding well for the rest of the season.
On the men’s side, Ben Girodias PO ’15 competed in the 3-kilometer race and placed fourth with a time of 8:45.84, behind only one collegiate runner and two unattached athletes. Known as “Lightning Ben” on the team, Girodias spoke after the meet about his mental strategy during the grueling 3K, the longest event of the day.
“Sometimes, I just run and run and run and I forget where I am,” he said. “I pretend that I’m running through storm clouds or a rhinoceros herd or an infant garden and that helps. But, yeah, in the race I went zoom, zoom and flashed like lightning across the finish line.”
P-P competed in the meet without one of their fastest distance runners, John Fowler PO ’16, who was out due to a foot injury sustained in early season training. Fowler, who finished fifth in the 5-kilometer race at SCIAC championships last season, watched from the sidelines during the meet.
“I try to live vicariously through my teammates while riding the bench,” he said.
Fowler, who has been on and off crutches for the last week, hopes to return to the distance squad in no more than two weeks.
On the mid-distance side of the men’s meet, Paul Messana PZ ’17 was second in the 1-kilometer race with a time of 2:30.35, and Pryor Stroud PO ’14 placed fourth, clocking in right behind Messana at 2:30.69.
Sprinter Titus Van Hook PO ’15 started off his season well in the 400-meter race, running a 52.16. In the 4×100-meter relay, Van Hook was joined by Greg Hook PZ ’14, Matt Sloane PO ’15, and Alex Chong PZ ’16 to finish the relay in 42.77, placing third with a time just shy of theirs at SCIAC championships last season.
Senior distance captain Alex Johann PO ’14 reminded the team after the meet that a new season represents months of tough training, and asked no one to become overly satisfied with their times.
“I’m not going to say that I’m proud of anyone,” he said. “No one is fast yet because no one deserves it yet. The season is just beginning. We’ve just started to put in the hard work and the results won’t come for a while. Overall, though, I’m pleased with the boys. Not proud, but pleased.”
On the women’s side of the meet, Ailene Nguyen PO ’16 won the long jump competition with a length of 5.29 meters, and P-P swept the event with Schuyler Fox PO ’17 taking second and Kaile Sauro PZ ’17 placing third. Hanna Levin PO ’14 placed fourth in the javelin and set a personal record of 106 feet.
On the track, middle distance runners Stassja Sichko PO ’15 and Maya Weigel PO ’17 placed second and third in the 1K with times of 3:09.10 and 3:10.97, respectively.
“Everyone built a little more character out there,” Cassandra Owen PO ’14 said. “Really put some hair on our chests.”
Thrower Stefanie Merchant PO ’16, who competed in the javelin, discus, and hammer, said that she was glad that parents visiting the 5Cs for the weekend could attend the meet.
“It was a great opener for the season, and I’m glad it was at home because all the parents got to see their kids compete, many for the first time ever,” she said. “Our team set some exciting benchmarks that people can use to improve on over the course of the season.”
The Sagehens compete on Feb. 22 at the Rossi Relays hosted by Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. The first events start at 10 a.m. and continue into the late afternoon.