Imagine waking up for 6:30 a.m. practices twice a week, running three other days, racing on Saturdays, and running between 15 or 16 miles on Sundays. When you’re not on the course or track, you’re stretching, icing in the training room, studying, listening to lectures, or eating.
Welcome to the life of Andy Reischling PO ‘19, a cross-country and track athlete for Pomona-Pitzer.
Since the beginning of the school year, Reischling has run an outstanding season. Along with placing in the top 20 out of over 250 competitors at the UC Riverside Invitational, he also won the SCIAC Multi-Dual Meet – setting the La Mirada Park course record of 25:22.86 in the process – and was named the SCIAC Athlete of the Week on Oct. 2.
Growing up in his hometown of Seattle, Wash., Reischling was involved in multiple sports, including running and tennis. He began his competitive running journey in fourth grade as a sprinter, but was, he admits, “the worst on the team.”
But when Reischling tried running the mile for the first time, he won. When he reached middle school, he helped start the school’s cross-country team, but still “didn’t take [the sport] very seriously.”
Eventually, Reischling recalled, “I realized that I was better at running than I was at tennis.” Starting in high school, he moved to running full time. Once committed to a team with strong coaches and intense competition, it was not until his junior year that he was saw a tremendous jump in his running abilities and “[became] a big contributor.”
Because of the strong results he produced during his junior and senior year, Reischling was contacted by former Pomona-Pitzer cross-country and track coach Tony Boston, and visited the Claremont Colleges twice. At first, the schools did not charm Reischling. “The first time, I hated it. I thought I’d never want to go to this school,” he said.
After visiting again, he applied early decision to Pomona. “It was kind of a spur of the moment decision. I figured wherever I went, I would be fine.”
Once he arrived at Pomona, “it took a month” for Reischling to settle down and find his place on the team. He started off as the second-fastest runner as a freshman, but gradually fell to third or fourth place. “As a freshman, it’s kind of tough to adapt to the higher intensity stuff and to make it through the whole season,” he said.
Reischling initially felt that the team would not be quite as serious about competition as he hoped because it is Division III. But as the season progressed, he saw that his teammates had become “super competitive and everyone was really into it.” He was excited by their collective enthusiasm and now feels that the team has “gotten even more competitive.”
The 2015 cross-country season ended on a high note as P-P finished in sixth at NCAA Nationals. “I remember seeing the result and absolutely flipping out together and screaming and tackling each other,” Reischling recalled. “I would say that I’ll probably remember that for the rest of my life … Not a whole lot of things top that.”
In the following year, Reischling, then a sophomore, was a member of the 2016 All-West Region team and All-SCIAC First team, after coming fourth at the SCIAC Championships and fourth at NCAA West Regionals. At NCAA Nationals, he placed 41st with a time of 25:01.3 despite feeling unwell. “Cross-country last season was kinda rough, but it’s gonna be better this season,” Reischling said.
The 2017 cross-country team has come out with impressive results at their meets thus far this season. At the recent Multi-Dual SCIAC Meet, the team had some of their top runners “tempo,” which Reischling defines as running less than their best “to rest for the bigger races.” Even so, P-P still took first over all eight SCIAC teams at the meet. Reischling enjoyed the tempo, which allowed the team to “run as a pack and do it all together,” adding, “It was a really strong early showing and a lot of guys left the race feeling really good about the season.”
Reischling not only stars on the cross-country course but also plays an important role on the track team in the spring. As a distance runner for the track team, he won the 2017 SCIAC 5000m event and achieved All-American status after ending in eighth at NCAA Nationals in the spring.
He hopes that the group of third-year runners can lead the team with the kind of motivation and positive culture that will allow P-P to replicate or even surpass the 2015 cross-country team’s success. “We probably have our best team ever this year,” he mentioned. “We want to win the SCIAC championship, we want to win the regional race at our home course and at nationals we want to get top four and get a trophy.”
Regarding the 2018 season, Reischling’s last with P-P cross-country, he said, “We’ll want to try and win the whole thing” – SCIAC, regionals, and nationals. Individually, he aims “to win a national title in track or cross country. That’s kinda the ultimate goal.”
Thinking ahead to his running career after his time as a P-P athlete, Reischling said, “I’ll still race for sure. Depending on how track goes, I might try to run for a team for a little while. I’ll have to run some times. But if I do that, I’ll definitely decide that I’ll want to keep doing this.”
All else aside, it’s his love for running that keeps him going. “It’s something that’s fun to do because it’s something you can work on improving outside of school, outside of personal relationships. It’s something you can kind of escape to during the day,” Reischling said. He loves that he can he can track his progress and clearly see improvement. “It’s not so obvious in other realms of life,” he said.
Being part of the P-P cross-country program, Reischling said that “this is really the last time in my life where I can say that there’s a group of 25 guys who are all working towards the same thing and doing the same thing everyday … It’s just fun to feel like you’re getting better at something and you’re getting better at something all together.”