“The heat was just so heavy,” Pitzer junior Kayla Eland said. “It was pressing down on us, and with each lap it felt like my legs were wading through quicksand and my lungs were going to collapse. Not to mention, my mouth was as dry as a bone.”
Laments of the stifling heat were not uncommon last Saturday, as Pomona-Pitzer’s women’s track and field competed in its final 4-way conference meet against Caltech, La Verne and CMS at CMC’s Burns Track. The Hens tackled Caltech, scoring 93-68, but fell to La Verne 51-95 and CMS 34-119. Despite heavy losses to their across-the-street rivals, the Hens were pleased to jog away from the meet with a number of personal best times and some attractive farmer's tans.
The day began at 11:00 a.m., when thrower Alex Oxborough-Yankus PZ ’14 and the two P-P pole-vaulters Lara Hugh-Stinson PZ ’11 and Isabelle Ambler PO ’13 trekked from Rains to CMC. The caravan was late enough to catch early-bird day-trippers as they made their way in Tahoes and 4-Runners to Newport Beach and the College Park pool.
“I wasn’t too worried about it,” Oxborough-Yankus said. “I mean, sure, I would’ve loved to have gone to Coachella or gotten my tan on, but I was glad that I was heading down to that hammer field.”
It was that sort of attitude that lifted P-P trackletes out of a brief slump that had plagued the team since their last bout against the Caltech Beavers.
In the midfield, Gracie Bialecki PO ’12 made some impressive jumps. Bialecki jumped 15' 6″ in the long jump, which was good for 2nd place; she also jumped 33' 9.5″ in the women’s triple jump.
Bialecki also ran a strong 100m hurdle race with Hanna Levin PO ’14. Bialecki clocked 17.17 while Levin followed close behind with a 17.20.
“I’m taking some dance classes on the side,” Bialecki explained with a shrug, “so hopefully my high-kicking abilities will help me out and I’ll start to see some results by the time SCIACs roll around.”
The Hens had a strong presence in the women’s 1,500m. Runners left the starting line with an eighteen-woman field. Within the first 200m the group had separated into three packs, with Annie Lydens PO ’13 at the head of the race and Claire Brickson PO ’14 leading the second pack. Lydens and two CMS runners stayed in front for the majority of the race until a brass bell was rung signaling the final 400 meters. Over the loudspeakers, an announcer cried out that “the race was coming down to strategy,” and with this comment, Lydens broke away from the rest of the triumvirate. Picking up speed with her signature tough kick, she gracefully came around the final curve and crossed the finish line in first place. Coming in close behind her, Brickson finished in 5:01.18 and Roxy Cook PZ ’13 clocked in at 5:03.58.
“Kirk just told me to make sure I got the win,” Lydens said, “so I just ran relaxed and controlled.” Lydens also won the women’s 800m race, crossing the finish line in 2:18.42.
In the women’s 3,000m steeplechase Leslie Canter PZ ’12 (your humble correspondent) finished the nearly two-mile barrier run in 12:36.4, shuffling the top ten P-P list and moving to the #4 P-P all-time mark.
By the end of the day, most of the Hens had completed their races and were looking forward to kicking back for the evening. Runners were heard laughing amongst themselves, joking about how glad they were not to be competing in the 5,000m race.
“It was the heat of the day. I was overheating just cheering,” Pomona freshman Tasha Block said.
By the time 3:30 rolled around, the women were lining up at the starting line. Following the men’s race, where a number of athletes were forced to drop out and one runner passed out on the track, Claire Brickson PO ’14, Kayla Eland PZ ’12, Kate Brieger PO ’11, Naomi Wagner PO ’13, and Alana Shine PO ’14 geared up and prepared for what looked like a death sentence.
“I was just focused on finishing the race,” Brickson said. “It wasn’t so much about time on Saturday as running a solid, controlled race.”
The race was Brickson’s debut into the 5k, and even under some pretty tough circumstances, Brickson finished with a strong kick in the last 200 meters.
“Our ladies stayed strong,” Alana Shine PO ’12 said after the race. “ The best part was that we got to run off that track and head straight to the Pitzer pool for a little cool-down.”
The Hens will not compete this weekend, but are saving their strength for the SCIAC Championship meet on the 29th. The meet will be held at home on the navy-blue tarmac of Strehle track.