Women’s Cross Country Led by Freshmen Roxy Cook on Home Course

On a typical Saturday morning, the area surrounding the blue track, the soccer field, and the Pomona farm may be spotted with the occasional Claremont dog-walker or casual jogger making their way along the gravel trails and dewy grass. However, at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3, these areas were teeming with sweatsuit-clad runners surveying the newly designed cross country course.For the first time since 1990, Pomona-Pitzer hosted a home cross country meet. The race served as a preview for the upcoming D-III West Region Championships on Nov. 11 and gave Sagehen runners the chance to perform in front of a home crowd.117 women from SCIAC schools and other western regional teams competed in the 6k race that a runner from UC Santa Cruz won in 22:41. The Sagehens placed fourth out of ten teams and were led by Roxanne “Roxy” Cook PI ’13, who finished in ninth place overall. Rose Haag PO ’10 finished in 10th, followed by Kayla Eland PI ’12, Kate Brieger PO ’11, and Rachel Haislet PO ’10.Cook led the Sagehens across the finish line in her first ever 6k race. In her first two races of the season (both 5k), she finished third and then second for the team, and she has been steadily improving. Her impressive ninth place finish on Saturday made her the third-best SCIAC runner at the meet. “To be honest, I didn’t even realize that it was a longer distance until after the race,” Cook said. “I must have missed that crucial detail in one of [head coach] Kirk [Reynolds]’s team meetings. Oh well. I guess maybe not paying attention worked out for the best. After the third mile I thought, ‘Huh, shouldn’t this be over?’ But, well, can’t really stop right in the middle.”The new course consisted of two smaller starting segments that went across the soccer field and part-way around the track and one larger loop that was completed three times. Although the course was slightly repetitive, the runners seemed generally pleased with the physical components of the course. “I loved that the course was on campus, but by the third time I started to think, wow, this is a bit redundant. Sort of like a washing machine: lather, rinse, repeat … around and around we go,” Cook said.The home-field advantage meant that the runners were able to become intimately familiar with the ins and outs of the course during work-outs this year. “I liked having a good grasp of the whole layout and geography,” Haag said. “I was able to plan a surge and knew exactly how much was left and where I was in the race.”Racing at home also gave some runners the extra boost they needed in the homestretch. Rachael Conrad PI ’13 pointed out that she had “smoked two girls who had passed me earlier [in the race], literally at the finish line.” Despite the early starting time there was still a good showing of supporters along the course. According to Haag, “the cheering was really helpful and pushed me to surge and pass people.”Due to the compact nature of the course and the multiple loops the runners make, it is a very spectator-friendly course. Fans were able to see the runners pass by on multiple occasions each lap.“It was a fun meet to watch because I felt like I was really able to follow the progress of the front runners,” said Christine Sargent PO ’10, who showed up to cheer on the Sagehen runners.Reynolds was forced to play both the role of coach and meet director, but his confidence in the senior leaders of the team allowed him to play a somewhat hands-off role and focus on running a smooth meet.“It’s impossible to act as both a coach and a meet director for home meets,” Reynolds said. “One of my aims as coach is to have the women be as independent as possible by their junior or senior year. They know what they need to do before a race, they know what time to warm up, they know what race strategy is best.”The CMS team decided to send their “B” team to Saturday’s race. Some considered this decision odd, considering that the meet provided teams a sneak peak at the course that will host the West Region Championships in November. “It’s always good to run a course at least twice,” remarked veteran runner Zoe Meyers PO ’10. “After you race a course once, you are almost always guaranteed to run a better race the second time because you know the turns and how it feels at certain points.”The Occidental Tigers, the Sagehens’ other main competition in SCIAC, beat the women by 40 points and had an average time that was approximately 30 seconds faster. “We held our own OK this week, but we probably need a few runners back from the pool and some PRs in order to really compete with Oxy and CMS,” said Haag of the team’s performance.While this may sound like wishful thinking, the reality is that the team would be better able to compete if it were not for the multiple injuries debilitating some key contributors. According to Reynolds, “We were a bit behind Oxy, but I think we have the team ability to match up better with them.”

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