Women’s Track Thrives at PP Invitational

Over 1,300 pairs of shoes stomped on Strehle track last Saturday, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational Track Meet. Known fondly by P-P tracksters as the “P-P Invite,” every year the Sagehens and Sagecocks look forward to the sudden influx of the perfect balance of “toned’n’tan” athletes gracing our grounds.

“P-P invite is the highlight of the spring!” Kate Brieger PO '11said. “I love seeing so many people from so many different states and even continents!”

Brieger was not alone in her praise of the event.

“It was nice to have a big crowd of people,” sophomore Naomi Wagner agreed. “The chatter and cheers definitely added to the excitement of the meet!”

Every April, athletes descend upon Claremont en masse, hailing everywhere from Chino to Calgary to the UK. Some rolled up with bandanas tucked in their left pockets, others with visors pulled over their eyes, keeping a strong poker face before the gun signaled a startling “Go.” Uniforms came in all shades and cuts, some in DIY tanks, while P-P kept it cool with their hair wraps and feather earrings.

“The day was pretty cold,” distance runner Kayla Eland said. “I had to whip out my white downy coat! But I guess as a whole, P-P had some pretty impressive performances.”

Runners' gloves and stretchy pants aside, P-P saw quite a few personal bests throughout the day. Racing from dawn to dusk, the Hens made some real moves on the SCIAC charts.

On the midfield, Gracie Bialecki PO '`1wowed crowds with some breathtaking jumps. Launching herself high into the air, Bialecki catapulted a personal best 32'7″ in the triple jump.

“I really admire the jumpers and their coordination,” cheerleader Kathleen Shea said. “Mad props to Gracie for not only being able to jump, but to jump far!” Shea stood by, keeping themen’s team athletes in check as she coordinated a cappella cheers for the Lady Hens.

“We were working on John Legend,” Shea said. “But Luke [Willert PO '13] needed a little work on his bass tones.”

In the early afternoon, Alana Shine ran a legendary 1500 meter race. Her brown hair was flying, her face fresh and glistening. The intensity she felt in her heart was mirrored on her face–Alana exhibited the focus of a master from the moment she leapt from the starting line to her final push across the finish. The Pomona freshman clocked in with a personal best of just over 5:11.

“Three and a half laps around the track never felt so good,” Shine said, glowing.

Isabelle Ambler PO '13starred in the 400 meter hurdles, racing 1:08:31. Ambler, who moonlights as Head Designer for PPTF logo-wear, was thrilled to finish with a strong personal best time, cutting seconds off her seed time. Ambler is one second away from adding her name to the top ten all-time P-P records for her event.

“It’s really exciting,” Ambler noted, “but it also adds some pressure. Now that I’m a so close [to the top ten], I need to maintain my focus. I think t-shirt design helps me keep an eye on the ultimate prize.”

Ambler is currently working on a series of PPTF shirts emblazoned with a glittered “Keep it Sexy.”

The final race of the meet was especially exciting. Two heats of the women's 5-kilometer race graced the track. In the first heat, sophomore Annie Lydens ran a startling 17:23:29, coming in second overall. Along with the glory of winning silver at the meet, Lydens scored a place on the top ten all-time P-P marks. Second behind Alicia Freese, Lydens’ time qualified her for the 2011 NCAA National meet in the 5000-meter race.

This weekend the Hens will take on CMS, Caltech and La Verne down 6th street at Burns Track. In the final meet before the SCIAC championships, the women’s track team is looking forward to looking good and feeling gorgeous.

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