Claremont Track and Field Athletes Excel Against Top Competition

The Pomona-Pitzer Invitational generated a new plane of competition for the Sagehens, Athenas and Stags on April 4. At the meet of about 1,000 athletes, the Claremont Colleges’ Division III teams faced off against other teams within the SCIAC conference, five DI teams and several professional athletes, including two sponsored Olympians. With this
level of competition, Clarement-Mudd-Scripps athletes broke 32 personal records and two team records, while
Pomona-Pitzer tied its women’s pole vault record and placed high in the finals of several field events. 

The running events, in which CMS won
11 heats and P-P placed six athletes in final heats, saw Claremont’s
runners pitted against professional athletes. The women’s 400-meter run was swept by
Olympians Carmelita Jeter (USA), Shevon Stoddart (Jamaica), and two
representatives from the Brazilian Olympic Committee, yet CMS’s sprinter Aiyanna
Cameron-Lewis CM ’18 placed seventh in the event. In the women’s 800-meter, mid-distance runner Carmen Mejia SC ’17 broke the CMS record while coming in second behind Nevada Morrison, the NCAA
DIII 2012 Track Athlete of the Year.

Hurdler Hanna Tarleton
CM ’17 summarized last week’s challenge in facing a larger pool of competition. 

“At dual meets, we’re all collegiate
Division III athletes, but at [Saturday’s meet], there’s a lot of post-collegiate
people and Division I athletes,” Tarleton said. “It’s definitely
nerve-wracking racing such good athletes. It was more stressful than the usual
meet, but everyone seemed to perform well.”

Tarleton, who placed third in the 400m hurdles, also commented on the technical demand of her event.

“[The 400m hurdles] distract from open sprinting and give you something to think about, like your form, but jumping over them forces you to concentrate on that,” Tarleton said.

The field events possessed the same degree of heightened competition, which led to records and high placements for both CMS and P-P. Sagehen pole vaulter Erin Delaria PO ’15 matched the P-P record with a vault of 3.35 meters, placing tenth in the event, and fellow Sagehen jumper Prisca Diala PO ’18 placed fifth overall in the long jump. 

Jumper Matt Wong CM ’17 broke the CMS long jump record and thrower Sam Perella CM ’15 of the Stags placed ninth in the hammer throw and thirteenth in shot put. P-P’s Chris Garnatz PO ’15 placed
second in javelin and celebrated the opportunity
to gauge himself against high tier competitors.

“These athletes show that our goal
marks and times that we strive towards all year are possible to attain and a
nice mental boost for those of us who haven’t set a personal best in quite some
time,” Garnatz said. “Second, competing against DI athletes and Olympians
inspires us to rise to their level, to prove our ability and validate our
hours of training.”

The Sagehens will compete next at the SCIAC Quad Meet at Occidental April 11, while the Stags and Athenas will face off against Cal Tech, Chapman University, California Lutheran University and Whittier College the same day. 

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