Despite Injuries, Sagehens Track Keeps Fighting

The Pomona-Pitzer men’s and women’s track and field teams started their season off with the annual friendly dual meet against Occidental College on Saturday, Feb. 13. The P-P men suffered a narrow defeat, losing 75-62, while the women’s team tied at 66.

“Our annual head-to-head meet with Oxy went well overall, although we came a few points short of a win,” sprinter Ryan Abele PO '17 said. “A few of those points were due to injuries, but I feel that we’ll show our full potential as a team once the injured members return.” 

It was a good showing for those Sagehens who were healthy enough to compete.

John Fowler PO '16 won the 3000-meter run, the first event of the day, with a time of 8:42.05. Brandon Hull PZ '18 and Marcus Polk PO '19 also chipped in two wins apiece: Hull won in the pole vault and javelin competitions, and Polk placed first in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles.

Cal Neikirk PO ’19 and Isaac Solomon PO ’17 also had strong outings: Neikirk tied for first with Occidental’s Max Mead in the high jump with a jump of 1.90 meters, while Solomon won the long jump outright with a distance of 6.15 meters. The Sagehens also set the second fastest distance relay time in school history, clocking in at 10:27.35. Although P-P did not open the season with a team win, Abele is excited to see how the team fairs going forward.

“This is by far the most talented team in years,” Abele said. “[Paul] Messana PO ’17 is one of the best 800-meter runners in the nation, and the rest of the team is full of talent. This includes some phenomenal first years, and a now-seasoned 4×100 meter relay team.”

Colin Brown PO ’16 agreed. “Our men's cross country team finished in sixth place at Nationals in the fall, which gives promise for a dominant distance team. Our hurdlers also looked especially strong, with two athletes [Polk and Neikirk] beating the SCIAC 400-meter hurdle defending champion in the 300-meter hurdles this weekend.”

On the women’s team, Abby Gardner PO '17 took first place in the 3000-meter run with a time of 11:02.51. Team captain Ailene Nguyen PO '16 took first in both the long jump and the triple jump with marks of 5.23 meters and 10.73 meters, while Jessica Finn PO '18 took first in the javelin throw with a distance of 39.21 meters. The Sagehens also won both the 4×100 meter relay with a time of 50.24 and the distance medley with a time of 12:46.92.

Nguyen said she is hopeful that her team will keep improving. “One of the great strengths of our team is that we're really young.” She added, “I'm also really proud of how hard we work during practice as well as at meets, and my teammates definitely inspire me to keep working hard.”

Nonetheless, Nguyen is sad to see her last season looming: “Oh, man. I'm really still kind of in denial that it's my final season and I'm really trying to live in the moment of every practice and every meet,” she reflected.

As for the coming season, she said, “I'm hoping to break my own personal records, be a great captain, and hopefully qualify for Nationals and become an All-American this year. A lot of big hopes and dreams, but I'm definitely trying to keep it realistic and just enjoy the ride.”

The Sagehens will host the Collegiate All Comers meet next weekend, Saturday, Feb. 20, starting at 10:30 a.m.

“We have a pretty big meet this weekend where athletes from all over southern California are looking to compete against the best,” Abele said. “It’s a great opportunity to race against some incredible athletes, so my fellow teammates and I are going to bring our A-game.”

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