With feet ablaze and nerves aflame, the Pomona-Pitzer cross country team ran their hearts out last Saturday, Sept. 17, at the University of California, Riverside Invitational.
The women’s cross country team started off the day strong, as Maya Weigel PO ’17 demolished the competition, earning third out of over 200 Invitational runners. With a time of 17:18.3, Weigel shattered the existing Pomona-Pitzer program best time, etching her name in Sagehen history as well as earning a spot as the SCIAC athlete of the week.
Moreover, the top five runners earned a cumulative time of 1:33.42, breaking the P-P record of 1:33.59 from 1982.
“The team's performance at the meet was above and beyond what we were looking to hit at the beginning of the season,” Helen Guo PO ’20 commented. “Combined, our top 5 scorers had one of the best 5-k[ilometer] averages we've had in school history.” Guo firmly believes that this “race will be a reflection of rest of the season” as the team hopes to make nationals this year. With the UCR Meet under their belts, the prospects look promising for the Sagehens.
With competition ranging from Division I schools to Division III, Weigel led the Sagehens to a seventh place victory. The team is dedicated to staying tough in the face of adversity and hopeful for a fantastic season.
“The girls are really incredible and supportive, and we push each other to work hard every day,” Laura Zhang PO ’19 said. “[We] continue to get stronger and faster in practices and workouts, getting a lot of hill, endurance, strength and speed work.”
On the men’s side, the Sagehens have risen to No. 5 in the national rankings with a fantastic meet.
Many an athlete brought home a personal victory, as 16 out of the 19 runners on the team set personal records, including Andy Reischling PO ’19 with a time of 24:47. Reischling competed with the best runners, finishing first amongst all Division III athletes, as well as 15th among all of the Invitational runners. His time now currently ranks as fourth in Pomona-Pitzer’s “All-time best” list: A time worthy of greatness, as Reischling now stands among three NCAA All-Americans, including John Fowler PO ’16.
“Last year the team only had two guys break 26 minutes and this year we had eight,” Reischling PO ’19 recounted.
As a unit, the men’s team was able to defeat every team in their SCIAC division with a score of 330, narrowly beating their local Claremont-Mudd-Scripps rivals by two points. The team ranked 10th overall out of 29 teams, triumphing over Division II and Division I programs alike.
“Despite the loss of All-American John Fowler PO '16, the new squad [has] stepped up to deliver our best team performance in recent memory,” commented Colin Mulligan PO ’19, who finished second for the Sagehens. “We are planning to continue the momentum this season to improve the National ranking and hopefully place top four at NCAA DIII Nationals in November.”
The Sagehens will be back in action in the upcoming weeks, as the women’s team will compete in the Griak Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 24, and the men’s team in the SCIAC Dual-Meets on Oct. 1.