Very shortly after 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12, Annie Lydens PO ‘13 crossed the finish line at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Regional Championships on Pomona-Pitzer’s home course. It was Lydens’s second consecutive Regional title and her fourth win in a streak that began with a seven-second victory and new course record at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational on Oct. 2. At Regionals, Lydens ran a 6K time of 21:26.1, seven seconds ahead of second-place finisher Illana Livstrom of Lewis & Clark.
“It was great to run on my home course,” Lydens said. “We had an awesome cheering squad, and I was very confident in my race having run the same course during workouts and tempos.”
Lydens had a little extra love on Saturday morning, as her parents had flown in from Singapore to watch her race.
“I knew my dad was going to come,” Lydens said, “and so I went and visited him at his hotel. When he opened the door, my mom jumped out and surprised me! I couldn’t believe it!”
Behind Lydens, the scoring team for the Sagehens included Naomi Wagner PO ’13 in a time of 23:20.7, Roxanne Cook PZ ’13 in 23:24.7, Claire Brickson PO ’14 in 24:15.3, and Ilona Kats PO ’12 in 24:16.6. The Hens placed tenth as a team, while CMS swept the race with five of their runners placing in the top eleven.
“The race was tough,” Brickson began, “but it definitely helped my mental game to know that we have run the course before. There were times when I started to feel a little tired, but I just had to remind myself that I’d done workouts on this course, that I’d poured blood, sweat, and spit into this ground. That really got me going.”
Brickson had a strong season, opening as the second runner for PPXC. At the UC Riverside Invitational, the second meet of the season, Brickson clocked the sixth-fastest 6K time in school history. Her season turned rocky toward the end, however, with illness and injuries that kept her off the roads for two weeks and forced her to “DNF” at the SCIAC Championship meet. The squad missed their “Bricks,” and the Regional meet was the first race since Riverside that the top five women’s PPXC scorers raced together.
“We have such a solid group,” Kayla Eland PZ ‘12 said, “and it’s helpful that we run workouts together and then typically race together. I’m looking forward to racing with my ladies during track!”
For most of the PPXC women, racing recommences in February when the group will cross over to distance track. For Lydens, however, the racing season continues tomorrow morning with the NCAA Division III Cross Country National Championships in Wisconsin. This is Lydens’s second “Natties” trip, after she and coach Alicia Freese PO ‘10 joined Alex Johnson PZ ’13 and Charlie Enscoe PO ’11 at the 2010 National meet in Iowa. Lydens placed ninth overall last year, and she enters this year’s race as a serious contender for the top spot.
“I’m really looking forward to this race,” Lydens said of Natties. “It’s an honor to run with such a talented group of women. I’m just excited to get out there and be a part of something I love.”
Lydens will run tomorrow morning at the Lake Breeze Golf Course outside Oshkosh in Winneconne, Wisconsin. The race kicks off at 12 p.m. EST. For more information, including a live feed, visit the NCAA online.