Sagehens Run Down Competition at P-P Invitational

While the
majority of their fellow Sagehens were fast asleep, the Pomona-Pitzer men and
women’s cross country teams were up early Oct. 4 for the sixth annual Pomona-Pitzer Cross-Country Invitational.

This race marked the men’s fourth race in four consecutive weekends. Although one might think this grind would
take a toll on the runners, the team was still running and training hard at
practice to prepare for the P-P Invite.

“It was
another high-mileage week,” John Fowler PO ’16 said. “We’re still in the thick
of the training right now and training through our meets so that we can be
peaking a little bit more toward the end of the season.”

The past
few weeks have been very different for the women’s team. After their last race at the University of California, Riverside Invitational on Sept. 13, the team had three full
weeks of practice to prepare for the home invite and beyond.

“We’ve been working on upping our
mileage and doing more hills. Hills are a terrific strength builder, and this is
the perfect time of the year to do that,” women’s head coach Kirk Reynolds said. “It
showed on Saturday with the fact that we were a little haggard and flat.”

Not only were the hills beneficial
for overall fitness, but they also helped the women get a better feel for their
home course.

“There are subtle uphills that are
deceiving,” Maya Weigel PO ’17 said. “So I think hill running has helped a lot
to get us to know the course.”

On the day before the big home meet, emotions were high for both teams in anticipation of the next day’s races.

“It was a fun time,” Fowler said. “We were
definitely excited about where the program was at, and having 16 prospects on
campus was good.”

Although the women’s team lacked a
flock of prospective students, excitement was high on their team as well.

“It’s nice and exciting because you
can have your friends come out and cheer, and that’s something we’re not used
to,” Weigel said. “It’s more relaxed too because you don’t have the stress of
being somewhere else.”

Despite all of this raw emotion surrounding
a home meet, the women’s team planned to focus less on the team
score and more on individual tactics.

“We focused more on the individual
effort this race,” Reynolds said. “With two conference meets coming up, we
wanted people to have practice racing against the three or four other bodies right
near them in a race and picking and choosing the places where to pass and make
moves.”

This more conservative team effort
was somewhat apparent in the final scores as the women’s PPXC team received 179
points, earning them seventh overall in a field of 17 teams. However,
from Division III schools alone, the Hens finished in second place behind their
rival, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.

Strong individual performance included Weigel, who led the PPXC women’s team, finishing in eighth place with a time of 22:34.9 in the 6-kilometer course. Rounding up the rest of
the top five were Camille Matonis PZ ’15, Alicia Mizes PO ’16, Kristen
Hernandez PO ’18 and Molly Cole PO ’16. They ran times of 22:58, 24:00,
24:01 and 25:19 to place in 17th, 50th, 51st and 95th, respectively. 

On the other hand, the men’s team
had a different goal in mind.

“We wanted to see if we could win
it,” Fowler said. “And we definitely accomplished that.”

With 35 points, the
Hens were able to stay far ahead of the competitors and win themselves a
first-place title. The top five PPXC men finishers were Ben Girodias PO ’15, John
Fowler PO ’16, Corey Purcella PO ’16, Paul Messana PZ ’17 and James Kinney PO
’18. They finished with respective times of 25:17, 25:23, 25:37, 25:42 and
25:56. All of them finished in the top 15, earning second, third, seventh, ninth and 14th places.

After this widely successful performance, the
men’s team was thrilled.

“We were excited. It was a really
good performance, and a lot of guys had really good days,” Fowler said. “It was
definitely one of the higher points of the season so far for the team, and
hopefully we can carry this toward the championship season.”

Although the women were not able to
clinch the title, they were able to walk away on a positive note.

“To be dissatisfied with your race
and to run a faster time than you have in the past only means that you have
really good races coming up,” Reynolds said.

Both the PPXC men and women’s teams will be
back on the trails Oct. 17 for the SCIAC Multi-Duals.

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