Young Stars Step Up for P-P Track Teams at SCIAC Meet

The SCIAC Track and Field Championships, hosted by Occidental College Apr. 25-27, have come and gone for another year.

What remains are the great improvement from the men and women of Pomona-Pitzer, with both teams nearly doubling their point totals from the 2008 meet despite losing their top point scorers in Brian Gillis PO ’10 and Alicia Freese PO ’10.

The men’s side also competed without John Mering PO ’10, one of the pre-meet favorites in both the 800m and 1500m.

First-years and newcomers to track and field stepped in to fill the void. Of the women’s seven individual point scorers, two—Traci Lopez PI ’12 and Micaela Fein PI ’12—were first-years, and one, Claire McGroder PO ’11, was competing in her first season of collegiate track and field.

Lopez placed third in the 400m, second in the 400m hurdles, and ran on both the 4x100m and 4x400m relays, which placed second and third respectively. Fein tied for fifth in the pole vault. McGroder turned up the meet’s top scorer, winning the 400m in a national qualifying time of 56.65, placing second in the 200m, and also running on both relays.

On the men’s side, the first-years were even more impressive, as three of six point scorers came from the class of 2012. Jack Lewis PO ’12 won the 110 hurdles in a national provisionally qualifying time and personal best of 14.80, placed second in the 100m, third in the 200m, and anchored the 4x100m to a fifth place finish and seasonal best for the team. Anders Crabo PO ’12 won the steeplechase in epic fashion. Closing hard after starting out conservatively, Crabo caught early leader Brian Kopczynski CM ‘11 with one lap remaining to win in a personal best of 9:23.55, less than a second off the NCAA provisional mark. Colin Flynn PI ’12, high school teammate of Crabo, then followed suit by winning the 1500m in 3:56 and coming in second in the 800m.

The future looks bright for the men of Pomona-Pitzer as they only graduate one point scorer, Torrey Olson PO ’09. The other two point scorers, Cameron Kinslow PO ’11 and Mike Grier PO ’11 are sophomores. Men’s Coach Tony Boston shared these sentiments.

“Inevitably, the end of a season stirs up many sentimental emotions,” said coach Boston. “While it sad to come to terms with losing three outstanding seniors—Brendon [Randall-Myers PO ‘09], Ian [Monsma PO ‘09], and Torrey—I am comforted in knowing that our freshmen and sophomores are more than capable of carrying the torch forward.”

And with the season ending for all but a few who will continue to compete (Lewis, McGroder, Olson, and Rose Haag PO ’10), at least the only available options of reflection on a season completed and anticipation of seasons to come are positive.

Stephen Parry PO ’11 noticed a difference from seasons past.

“At the end of last year’s season, even though I ran two PRs, I was really disappointed with the team, and got the sense that people didn’t really care we had finished sixth, or second-to-last,” said Parry. “From the very beginning of this season, it was a different story, and I could immediately feel that the team wasn’t going to be content with just showing up, and that both our coaches and athletes really wanted to bring it. Finishing fourth, and almost snagging third, was truly a great feeling and one that I couldn’t have imagined a year ago.”

It seems Parry has struck on something even more important. From the very beginning of this season, it was a different story of team chemistry since last year. What the athletes felt complacent with last season would no longer suffice for athletes or coaches. Whether it was that drive to improve, or something else, however, it was clear that the team was much more appropriately called a team. Sprinters cheering for the distance runners and vice versa became the norm, not the exception.

Maddy Kieselhorst PI ‘09, fifth in the 1500m and member of the 4x400m relay, said of both teams, “We are no longer in the bottom four!” This allows the Sagehens to avoid earning the dubious honor of an invitation to Caltech’s Bottom Four SCIAC meet.

Coach Boston concurred: “We achieved our goal of finishing in the top four in the conference and almost got the number three spot—not bad for a 30-person roster.”

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