Gather round, one and all, to hear the tale of the Pomona-Pitzer men’s cross country team.
Known as a jolly band of brothers, PPXC has been an oft-recognized entity across the campuses since before recent memory. Built upon an unshakeable foundation of success, their history is long and storied. Unfortunately, oral tradition prior to the 1960s has been lost. So we shall pick up our tale with the era of Pat Mulcahy PO ’66.
Having inherited, after graduating, a team that had only won one SCIAC title in 1962, Mulcahy began the long, slow, and tedious process of rebuilding the program. Athletes were known for picking Pomona over all other colleges because of Mulcahy’s aggressive recruitment techniques. But something wasn’t clicking, regardless of the talent he brought in, until the mid-1970s when the Sagehens earned their previously elusive second SCIAC title in 1974. Between 1978 and 1988, the team garnered an additional five conference titles. These they backed up with six individual titles, highlighted by back-to-back wins by Sieg Lindstrom in 1982 and 1983, both in a time of 24:16 over eight kilometers that has yet (to the best of the author’s knowledge) to be eclipsed by any successive teammate. Pomona-Pitzer had become a distance running powerhouse.
At this point, a metaphorical drought ensued such that, regardless of an individual champion in 1993, PPXC was continually left as second-best, always picking up the scraps of the other teams in the conference, notably cross-town rivals CMS and Occidental. It wasn’t until PPXC savior Crosby Freeman’s PO ’06 sophomore year that the team would return to its proper place atop the conference; after three consecutive individual titles in Freeman’s sophomore, junior, and senior years, PPXC found itself raking in three more SCIAC titles in 2003, 2004, and 2005. Unfortunately, even with the help of a fourth consecutive individual title for a PPXC runner, this time Will Leer’s PO ’06 blistering 24:51 8k, another title slipped from the Sagehens’ grasp in 2006.
SCIAC Champions plaque number 11 has been anxiously awaited by all those to have come through the program since.
Saturday, best known for the festivities sure to go down at Harwood Halloween, is a doubly special day for the men of PPXC. Oct. 29 marks the annual return of the SCIAC Championships, held at Prado Regional Park in Chino. Here, determined boys are made into men, while those who have considered themselves men may discover an inconvenient truth. This year is especially important, for it is the first year that PPXC has found itself consistently ranked toward the top of the conference, underscoring the very real possibility that SCIAC title number 11 could make its way to the halls of Rains Center—on the appropriate side of 6th Street.
Captain Alex Johnson PZ ’13 commented, “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. We also made this goal number one even before the start of the season. Saturday’s looming, and I think I speak for us all when I say we’re ready to crush it.”
Evidently, the team is brimming with confidence. Unfortunately, their hopes for a SCIAC title were nearly dashed the weekend of Fall Break when they found themselves defeated at the hands of Oxy and a mere point ahead of CMS at SCIAC Multi-Duals.
Captain Paul Balmer PO ’12 shed light on the matter: “Multis was a fluke. We just had a real off day there, but now that we’ve lost to Oxy and inadvertently given them our number one SCIAC and NCAA West Region rankings, we have something to chase. When it matters, we’ll be in the lead pack, ready to snake our way in for the dub [win].”
Head coach Tony Boston is excited about what’s to come; he was recently overheard telling the team prior to practice, “The goal of the week is recovery. We want y’all to be as ready to go on Saturday as possible so you can… Kill it! CMS has won the last few titles; it’s high time we reclaimed it.”
So Saturday afternoon, as you arouse yourself from the aftermath of your Friday festivities, be sure to inquire about the cross country team. Steeped in a tradition of winning, don’t be surprised if you discover they’ve finally clinched that 11th “dub,” and be sure to celebrate all the more heartily that night at Harwood Halloween knowing your jolly band of brothers has brought the championship plaque home.