The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Pomona-Pitzer track and field teams are beginning to prepare for conference competition as they jump into the heart of their seasons.
Going into the new decade, the CMS men’s and women’s teams will attempt to repeat as SCIAC champions, while the P-P teams return a number of All-Americans from last season, looking to dethrone the Stags and Athenas.
CMS men look to win seventh SCIAC championship in past eight years
The Stags entered 2020 as the reigning SCIAC champions, and were picked to win the conference again this season in the preseason coaches’ poll.
Last season, the team was picked to finish fourth in the preseason, but rolled to a 40-point win at the SCIAC Championship. Understandably, the preseason expectations are higher, as the squad returns several of last year’s top performers for their quest to repeat as conference champs.
The Stags bring back all four of their individual national qualifiers from last season, including steeplechase All-American Evan Hassman HM ’21. Hassman ranks third in CMS history in the steeplechase and placed eighth in the event at the NCAA Championship last season.
Among many other strong returners is Maxwell Knowles CM ’20, the reigning SCIAC champion in javelin. Knowles, who was originally a walk-on for the Stags, has his eyes set on an even greater accomplishment this season.
“I certainly want to win the SCIAC title again, to defend that title,” Knowles said. “I would love to break the CMS school record this year, if possible, and make a run at being an All-American.”
Knowles also cited the track and field program’s recruiting process and acceptance of walk-ons as major contributors to the team’s success over the years.
The men’s team will compete in their first SCIAC Multi-Dual meet at Whittier March 7.
Athenas aiming to win sixth straight SCIAC Championship
The Athenas have been an unstoppable force over the last five years, and 2020 appears to be no different — CMS returns two of last year’s three individual national qualifiers, and is the odds-on favorite to win the SCIAC in this season’s preseason poll.
Last season, the Athenas squeaked out their fifth straight conference title, topping Redlands in the conference championships by only three points. The team also lost All-American Jacque Desmond SC ’19 to graduation, who placed fourth nationally in the pole vault last season.
“Not only was [Desmond] a great athlete but she was also a great leader. Her presence is definitely missed on the team,” said Sobechukwu Uwajeh CM ’22, who finished top-10 in the SCIAC last year in hammer throw. “But we have amazing freshmen … I think the vaulters are ready and doing well.”
Returning for the Athenas are national qualifiers Amanda Mell CM ’20 and Sabrine Griffith HM ’20, who will lead the team in the triple jump and long jump, respectively.
The distance squad’s young age will also be important to the Athenas’ success this year, with Riley Harmon SC ’22 leading the group as she comes off of an All-American performance in cross-country in the fall.
The Athenas will also compete in a multi-dual meet at Whittier March 7.
P-P men look to build off of cross-country national title
The Sagehens are hoping to improve upon their second-place finish in the SCIAC last season as they begin conference meets. The team placed 16th nationally last season after sending six individual qualifiers to the national meet.
They’ll be boosted by their distance runners, who took home their first NCAA championship in the fall. Steeplechase All-American Danny Rosen PO ’20, also a member of the title-winning cross-country team, has high hopes for the upcoming track season.
“I’d like to win the championship in the steeplechase this year. I’m coming back with the top returning time, so that’s a goal that’s been on my mind for a while,” Rosen said. “I hope to keep encouraging our young guys to develop and run faster.”
Head coach Jordan Carpenter also hopes that some of the new runners can help the team exceed past seasons’ performances, including Jack Rosencrans PO ’23 and sprinter Angel Daniel-Morales PO ’23.
“The 1500[-meter run] will be [Rosencrans’] main event. He was really talented in high school. … We expect some big contributions there,” Carpenter said. “[Daniel-Morales is] another first-year who has been running well early, so we’re excited to see where he ends up.”
While the Sagehens lost 10,000-meter All-American Andy Reischling PO ’19 to graduation, Carpenter and Rosen said standout distance runners from the cross-country season have helped fill that void.
The Sagehens host their first conference meet against Redlands, La Verne and Cal Lutheran at Strehle Track on March 7.
P-P women look to improve in SCIAC with three returning All-Americans
The Sagehen women return four individual national qualifiers and three All-Americans as they hope to improve on a fourth-place finish in the SCIAC last season.
The P-P women were selected to come third in the coaches’ preseason poll this season behind CMS and Redlands.
Leading the team are seniors Vicky-Marie Addo-Ashong PO ’20 and Helen Guo PO ’20, who earned 2019 All-American honors in the triple jump and 5,000-meter run, respectively. The Hens also return Lila Cardillo PO ’22, who received All-American honors as a first-year in the 10,000-meter run.
“Our three [All-Americans] are certainly vital components to the team this year, and they’re going to provide good leadership and mentorship for newcomers,” head coach Kirk Reynolds said. “We also have a number of veterans in all event groups that are also going to provide that similar leadership.”
Cardillo said the team has introduced new bonding activities that will help members become closer.
“We spent a lot of time during preseason coming up with our team values and figuring out how we can best support our teammates in different event groups,” Cardillo said. “We also do a weekly whole women’s team dinner in Frary … we make an effort to talk to someone [we] don’t practice with typically.”
Another strong returner for P-P is Quin Fraley PO ’22, who earned All-Region honors last season in the 400-meter dash.
Reynolds added that he’s excited to see the Hens come together and compete as an entire team at the upcoming conference meets.
The Sagehens will also compete at the Multi-Dual meet at Strehle Track on March 7.