Sagehens Stride Into New Season

 The Pomona-Pitzer track and field team earned a win over Occidental College (152-123) Feb. 14 in the team’s first meet of the season, showcasing talent and fun-spirited ingenuity. The meet saw impressive performances by first-year athletes and a new American record.

The event in question, a coed 1600m medley relay that was 400m by 200m by 200m by 800m, was devised by the coaching staff of both teams for Saturday’s meet. According to men’s head coach Tony Boston, the accolades attached to the relay resulted from its unique, unofficial status.

“It’s an American record, probably a world record, because it’s such a novel thing,” Boston said. “It’s something that we made up. This is a pretty fun meet between us and Occidental.”

Sprinter Avi Sheldon PO ’16, a 200m leg runner for the medley relay, elaborated further on the ‘fun’ nature of the meet against Occidental and the reason behind implementing the relay into the meet.

“We have this meet with them every year and it doesn’t count for anything in the conference, so we’re allowed to get creative and have a little fun with it,” Sheldon said. “Last year we couldn’t have it because it was rained out, so [the coaches] had some time to think about how to make this year more memorable.”

However, the memorable nature of the coed relay posed a technical challenge, according to Coach Boston.

“The men and women were both running, so not only is that unusual, but it also made it difficult for the handoffs,” Boston said. “Trying to match the speed of [an] incoming male runner and [a] female outgoing runner made the handoff a little tricky.”

According to sprinter and jumper Ailene Nguyen PO ‘16, the relay’s unusual nature united the men’s and women’s teams for a 20-second lead ahead of Occidental.

“I thought it was a good bonding experience for [the men’s and women’s] teams because we don’t really get to do that much together,” Nguyen said. “I think our first leg just had a really great run, so it set the standard for the rest of us to carry on the lead.”

In addition to the medley relay, Sheldon and Nguyen exemplified PPTF’s talent in their other events. Sheldon placed third in the 400m dash and placed second as part of the 4x400m relay. Nguyen placed first in both the 100m dash and the women’s long jump, and placed second as part of the 4x100m relay.

PPTF also performed admirably in field events, with both the men’s and women’s teams winning the pole vault, long jump, triple jump and javelin throw, and the P-P women scoring additional wins in the shot put and discus throw.

Thrower Calvin Aylward PO ’18, PPTF’s new javelin thrower and the winner of the event on Saturday, elaborated both on his role as a collegiate field athlete and his philosophy on field events.

“I’m glad to be able to come to college and keep throwing,” Aylward said. “It’s just something that helps me to relax and take my mind off school. I don’t really take it as a super personal thing against other people; I’m just trying to have some fun. I like to go out and throw, and I’m just trying to beat myself: Happy if I do, happy if I don’t, just trying to get better.”

When discussing his fellow field athletes, Aylward further emphasized a mentality centered on personal improvement rather than interpersonal competition.

“Everyone just goes out and hopefully they think, ‘let me beat my personal record’ and not think ‘oh, this guy is so much faster than me, I’m never gonna beat him.’ You know, just try to get better,” Aylward said.

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