Prado Park in Chino is notorious for a few things. First and foremost, the air sitting above the park smells like death. And now, a close second, the park is now known as the stomping grounds of Annie Lydens PO ‘13, country music enthusiast, SCIAC Champion, and two-time SCIAC Runner of the Year.
“There is something familiar about how it smells,” Lydens mused as she waited 20-deep in line for the only women’s restroom. “Maybe rice paddies? Water buffalo?” Lydens laughed. “It sort of reminds me of home!”
Hailing from Singapore American School and having spent many summers dodging water buffalo during morning runs through rice paddies, Lydens appears to have used the similarities between Singapore and Chino to her advantage. At the SCIAC Championships at Prado Park, Lydens blew her competition out of the water.
“I feel really good about it,” Lydens said in a post-race interview with the NCAA. “I think we had a slow start, and people were more concerned about place than time.”
Lydens ran with the top pack for the first 2.5 miles when she realized she had been running at a pace slower than her workout tempos.
“After about 2.5 miles, I just started picking it up, and ran by myself… it was a comfortable way to run a race.”
Lydens finished the 6-k course in 23:11.10, 25 seconds ahead of her closest competitor, Cal Lu senior Taccoa Kahovec.
The Hens finished fourth in SCIAC, close behind Occidental and Whittier. CMS clinched the team title with under 30 points. Scoring for the Sagehens, Naomi Wagner PO ’13 ran 24:32.22 to place 20th overall, earning her Second Team All-Conference honors.
“I thought it went pretty well,” Wagner said after a post-race banana. “I think we all took it out pretty slow, but it was a hard race.”
The Hens suffered a great loss after Claire Brickson PO ’14, a consistent top scorer for the team, passed out 400 meters before the finish. Brickson had been sick and injured the week leading up to the Prado meet and was unable to finish despite a valiant effort.
“I don’t know,” Brickson said, “I just figured that I’d put all the hay in the barn. I think I took the race out and ran it like I had been running before my injury and illness. The result was a little rough.”
Roxanne Cook PZ ’13 crossed the finish line as the Sagehens’ third runner. Cook has been a consistent asset to the Pomona-Pitzer team, scoring as the third or fourth runner all season. The Hens missed Cook, also an actress, during her time off while performing earlier this season, and they since have benefited greatly from her return.
“Roxy…well, she just gets out there and does it,” Tasha “Mama T” Block PO ’14 said. “She’s our secret weapon.”
Not secret for long, though. Cook came in close behind Wagner in a time of 25:09.97.
Ilona Kats PO ’12 had the race of a lifetime. Beginning the season as number eight or nine on the Sagehen squad, Kats finished the conference championship meet in 25:45.31 as the fourth runner on the P-P squad, and she scored points towards the Hens’ team score. Kats was all smiles at the end of the race, but most notable was her tenacious effort on the course. Coming from behind, Kats methodically and strategically picked runners off, moving ahead at a sustainable rate. Kats even had enough spark left to whisper encouragement to her teammates during the last 800 meters of the race.
“Let’s do this, girl,” Kats said as she passed her struggling teammate, Leslie Canter PZ ’12.
In a race setting, that type of comment is generally shrugged off with a “you don’t even know” attitude. But coming from Kats, the sentiment was clearly genuine and the words hard-earned.
The top seven Sagehen runners will take the next week to prepare for the NCAA West Regional meet on Nov. 12. It will be the first race since the opening of the season that the top scoring runners will all run together. Although hosted by Occidental, the race will be held on the P-P home course at 9 a.m. Come early, be loud, and cheer on your Hens.