The 2019 SCIAC Track and Field Championship meet was a tale of extremes for Sixth Street rivals Pomona-Pitzer and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
The Sagehen men were favored heading into the weekend, but the Stags came out on top. On the women’s side, CMS held on by just three points over Redlands for its fourth-straight title.
The P-P men’s squad entered the meet ranked No. 2 in the country, and the Sagehens seemed poised to defend their SCIAC title from 2018 — the closest teams behind them in the conference were Redlands and CMS, ranked No. 12 and No. 28, respectively.
But CMS had a plan to take down P-P, and avenge the Sagehens’ win in the meet last season.
“We wanted to step up because losing to P-P last year broke a long streak of victories for the Stags,” said Will Kimball CM ’21, a steeplechase and mid-distance runner. “This win was important in proving that loss was a fluke.”
Prior to the meet, some of the Stags made projections in an effort to pinpoint where the team might finish overall if each member placed higher in their event than expected. Ultimately, the Stags realized they’d need numerous standout performances across the board if they wanted to upset the Sagehens.
This knowledge gave CMS the motivation it needed to pull off the victory, Kimball said.
“We were going to need some really special, exceptional performances in order to beat P-P, because they were pretty favored, as they were ranked No. 2 in the country,” he said.
A huge win came in the 5,000-meter race at the end of the meet, where Miles Christensen HM ’22 won in 14:42, six seconds ahead of defending champion Andy Reischling PO ’19, who holds one of the top 5K times in the country this year.
At the SCIAC championship meet last year, the Sagehens scored 40 points in the 5K, swinging the meet in P-P’s favor. Despite a two-three-four-five finish by P-P in the event this year, the Stags came out on top by 36 points, 211.5 to 175.5, after Christensen’s win.
The Stags closed out the meet with a win in the 4×400-meter relay. Alex McDonald CM ’21, Daniel Addison CM ’21, Keizo Morgan HM ’22 and Jamie Cockburn CM ’22 won the event with a time of 3:19.43. The win was especially significant for the Stags because dropping the baton during the same relay cost them a meet victory during an earlier dual meet against Redlands.
Other notable sprint finishes by the Stags included McDonald’s 400-meter hurdles win at 53.10, the second-fastest time in CMS history, and Corbin Bethurem CM ’19’s third-place finish in the 200 at 21.80.
The Stags dominated the pole vault, throwing and jumping events, achieving one-two finishes in discus and hammer throw, where Reese Peterson HM ’20 followed Matthew Sill CM ’21 in both events. Peterson completed the CMS throwing sweep by winning shot put in a personal record 48 feet, and Walker Quinn CM ’20 won pole vault, clearing 15 feet-7.25-inches.
Though the Sagehen men were disappointed by the loss, some members of the team have qualified for the NCAA championship meet and are focused on future competitions. Daniel Tamkin PO ’21, a sprinter, considers the ability to move forward from losses and maintain the motivation to win a crucial part of the Sagehens’ culture.
“I would say the mentality of the team was strong. Our coaches emphasize what happened at the meets already happened and we need to get past that and to not let it get to us, because each race, anything can happen,” Tamkin said. “If you go into a race with the mindset of not knowing if you’ll perform well, then you won’t perform well. You have to go into every race thinking you will set a new personal record.”
Fellow sprinter Dylan Madden PZ ’21 agreed that the team is well-equipped to move on from the loss.
“We go into every season wanting to get as many people to nationals as we can, and we consistently send many athletes to nationals,” he said. “It not only looks good for the program, but competing at the national level promotes future success, because it motivates athletes joining the team and athletes who are already part of the team.”
On the women’s side, CMS extended its SCIAC championship win streak to five, but the Athenas’ victory didn’t come without drama — they won the championship by just three points over Redlands.
Heading into the meet, CMS knew it would be close.
“It was important that going into the meet, everyone realized we had to run for each other if we wanted it to work out the way it ended up working out,” distance runner Sophie Gitlin CM ’22 said. “We had to recognize that was why we were doing it.”
While the Athenas did not log many top finishes, they raced, jumped and threw to a number of mid-scoring performances. Standouts who won their events included Jacque Desmond SC ’20 topping the pole vault, becoming the first woman in SCIAC history to clear 13 feet.
With four runners scoring in the event, the 5,000 was also significant for the Athenas. Malea Martin CM ’19 finished third at 18:04, with Abigail Johnson SC ’21 finishing fifth, Riley Harmon SC ’22 in sixth and Natalie Marsh SC ’19 in seventh. Martin also finished second in the 10,000-meter race the day before.
Despite a number of first-place efforts, the Pomona-Pitzer women’s track team finished fourth overall. Vicky-Marie Addo-Ashong PO ’20 accumulated 26 of the team’s 100 points, winning the high jump at 5-feet-3.75-inches and the triple jump with a mark of 38-feet-7.75-inches. Addo-Ashong’s 14.46 third-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles set the Sagehen record for the event.