P-P Runs Best Times of the Season at Stanford

While the
weather may have been cool last weekend in Palo Alto, it didn’t stop the Pomona-Pitzer men’s cross country team from coming out hot at the 41st
annual Stanford Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 27.

With two
races finally under its belt after the University of California, Riverside Invitational and The Master’s College’s Mustang Challenge, the
more experienced PPXC team felt well-prepared for the Stanford Invite.
This was especially true for the first-years.

“It was
definitely a transition,” James Kinney PO ’18 said. “After running 5Ks in high
school, I had no idea what a good 8K time was. I had to look and see what other
people on the team had done and ask around.”

With the
first-years, and the team as a whole, more experienced, it was time for an all-out
effort.

“We had two
really big goals. One was to have a big race, and the other was being willing to
take calculated risks,” head coach Tony Boston said. “Sometimes we can be a little cautious in our approach to
racing, but we decided to go for it and see what would happen.”

In order to
be ready for maximum effort at Stanford, the team began to cut back on mileage,
or as it is known in cross-country terms, taper. However, this definitely did not mean an easy
week.

“It’s still
the middle of the season, so we did a really hard workout Tuesday. That helped
in the sense that it gave me confidence that I could hit the paces,” Kinney said. “Then Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were pretty easy, cutting down on
the mileage and doing easier runs. You definitely feel different when you back
off; you feel a little more snappy, which is a good feeling.”

With more
spring in their step than in the past two weeks, the Sagehens left campus for the Bay Area on the day before the Invitational. The Stanford Invite, held on the campus’ golf course, is one of the largest meets of the year with over 300 male collegiate
runners and 3,000 competitors in total.

At 9:50 a.m.,
the PPXC team, along with the other collegiate male competitors, set off on the
course. Quickly, the Hens attempted to flock together into their pre-arranged
packs. However, both coaches and players mentioned the difficulties of packing
together given the large field of runners.

“Some of the pack running did not work as
well, in part because of the size of the field it was really tough to make that
happen,” coach Boston said. “That was one of the
disappointing things, but I think the circumstances just didn’t allow that
particular strategy to be utilized effectively.”

While
Kinney also mentioned the difficulties of trying to find others, he was able to
find a positive aspect in the breaking away from the packs.

“We were
able to work with people for a while, and then people individually have different
paces to finish at,” Kinney said.

Despite
these difficulties, the Hens were able to finish very strongly, placing fourth
with 139 points in their division, consisting of Division II and III schools. Placing
ahead of them were California State University Chico (DII), University of California San Diego (DII) and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. Both coaches
and players were very pleased with this performance.

“It’s by
far the best race we’ve had at Stanford. In part that’s because of the quality
of the runners we have right now and the preparation going into it. The weather
helped out tremendously as well,” coach Boston said. “We had two guys that were
under 25 minutes for the 8K and a third that was really close. That just
doesn’t happen in our program, so it was a huge day for us.”

The top
five finishers for P-P were John Fowler PO ’16, Ben Girodias PO ’15, Corey
Purcella PO ‘16, Kinney and Adam Hathaway PO ’17.  They had respective times of 24:40, 24:42,
25:10, 25:21 and 25:30, earning them 46th, 50th, 97th,
120th and 143rd.

Kinney
agreed that this was not only a big meet for individuals, but for the team too.

“It’s
definitely important in the middle of the season to get a place like that
because you’re working hard every day, and you don’t get that much feedback.
It’s nice to have tapered for a week and get some really fast times and know
that the work is paying off,” Kinney said.

On Saturday,
Oct. 4, both the PPXC men and women’s teams will be competing at the Pomona-Pitzer
Invitational. The race will start at 7:45 a.m. for the men and 8:30 a.m. for the
women and take place at Pomona’s Strehle Track.  

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