From Colorado Springs to the Pacific Ocean, Pomona-Pitzer men's and Claremont-McKenna-Scripps women's cross country are now the fastest in NCAA Division III. They both finished in first place in the NCAA West Regional Meet on Nov. 11.
The Sagehen men once again showed the confidence and hard work that put the SCIAC Championship trophy in their hands two weeks before, taking first place Saturday.
Andy Reischling PO ’19 had an impressive first-place finish in the meet with a time of 25:04, becoming the fifth Sagehen ever to win the Regional meet. Joining him in the top ten were Colin Mulligan PO ’19 in fourth, James Kinney PO ’18 in eighth, and Julian Degroot-Lutzner PZ ’19 in ninth place.
“I think most of the guys ran really well,” said Mulligan. “We were really confident going in and Coach Jordan has been pretty adamant about how he thinks that we’re a top tier program so we took that and we went out hard.”
It didn’t hurt to be racing at home, an advantage that may have contributed to the whopping 55 point lead that the Hens took over second-place University of California, Santa Cruz. “All the previous workouts that we’d had on the Farm – I used them as a confidence booster mid-race,” Mulligan said. “We’ve just done so many hard workouts there that I think it’s easier to really lock in.”
P-P last won the Regionals meet in 2012, and came close to doing so again in 2015 losing by a margin of 11 points to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
Joining the P-P men’s team in victory were the Athenas, finishing with 58 points to close out second-place Whitworth University by 51 points. The Athenas were also following up a SCIAC Championship win, proving that they are not only the fastest team in the conference, but also the fastest in the western United States. In the regional meet, Bryn McKillop SC ’18 came in first with a time of 21:07.51, and Abigail Johnson SC ’21 placed ninth.
“I think we did a good job of running as a team,” said Johnson. “I think that a lot of people didn’t have their best race of the season. We were supposed to get out really fast to practice doing that at nationals – have a really fast first mile – and I think Coach was hoping we could execute that plan a little better.”
Meanwhile, the CMS men’s team placed third.
For the Stags, Thomas D’Anieri CM ’20 finished seventh with a time of 25:31.50, while Kevin Huang HM ’18 placed 11th. Following them in 24th and 25th were Kyle Suver HM ’18 and Stephen Steinberg HM ’21.
For the P-P women, who placed sixth, Lauren Hamilton PO ’20 and Helen Guo PO ’20 both finished in the top ten, achieving personal course bests and claiming the third and fifth fastest course time in P-P program history, respectively.
“The race didn’t go how I expected it to,” said Hamilton. “I came into the race expecting to run with Kayla [Leland of Whitworth University] and Bryn, but Kayla dropped back and Bryn surged so I was left running in no-man’s land.”
Nevertheless, Hamilton took second with a time of 21:28.09, a better finish than she’d hoped for. “It was the same course as PPI [Pomona-Pitzer Invite] so I expected it to be the same time, but I ended up running 15 seconds faster,” she said. That time wedged her between Annie Lydens ’11 and Alicia Freese ’08 for the third fastest time in program history.
Next up for the men’s and women’s cross country teams is the national meet, which will take place on Saturday, Nov. 18, in Elsah, Illinois. While the Athenas and the P-P men's team will both carry a full racing squad – seven racers and two alternates – both the Stags and the P-P women's team will only bring two competitors.
The Stag's competitors are D'Anieri and Huang. The P-P women's team has Hamilton and Guo competing.
Hamilton, who joined Maya Weigel PO ’17 for last year’s national competition and took 169th, now aims to make the All-American list, which as of 2017 includes all top 40 finishers rather than the top 35.
Meanwhile, the Athenas and men's PP squad have similar goals for results at nationals. “Our goal is top ten, but people have been throwing around fourth place as a hope,” Johnson said, speaking for the Athenas.
Mulligan echoed for the Sagehens: “Our biggest goal is definitely top four as a team. Top four as a team gets us on the podium, and that’s been a goal since the start of the season.”
And for the Hens, while Vucovich and Kinney will graduate in the coming spring, much of the nationals pack will return for next year’s cross country season. When asked about career goals for himself and the team, Mulligan recalled something the class of 2019 talked about on the first day of preseason their freshman year: “We said, ‘By senior year we want to win a national title.’ And that’s definitely still our goal.”