John Guzman (senior) won the NCAA West Regional Cross Country meet for the second year in a row Nov. 15. Despite being matched against stiff competition, Guzman was able to control the race from beginning to end, finishing with a time of 25:15.96.
Guzman did not go into the race focused on securing a specific time; rather, he was just determined to finish first.
“My plan was just to kind of take the control of the race early and just always be in control of the tempo and not let anyone do what they wanted to do,” Guzman said. “So I tried to cover everyone’s moves and always stay in the front.”
While head coach Rob Bartlett did not find Guzman’s success surprising, he acknowledges the rarity of winning back-to-back regional titles.
“As the defending regional champion, John’s victory wasn’t unexpected, but winning back-to-back championships at this level is rare and John deserves a lot of credit for accomplishing that feat,” Bartlett said via email.
The first place at the regional meet guarantees Guzman’s spot at NCAA Division III National Championships in Mason, Ohio Nov. 22.
Ellie O’Brien (sophomore) etched her name into the Occidental swimming record books with a strong individual performance at the SOKA Invitational on Nov.15. Her time of 2:33.24 in the 200-yard breaststroke earned her the seventh-best time in program history. O’Brien also competed in the 200-yard medley relay, 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard breaststroke at the meet.
In addition to her record-breaking performance, O’Brien’s time of 1:11.84 in the 100-yard breaststroke was less than .2 seconds outside of the all-time Occidental top-10 for that event.
O’Brien finished in second place in both the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststrokes, and placed third along side teammates Lauren Poppenhagen (junior), Lianne McKinney (freshman) and Madeline Gillman (freshman) in the medley relay.
According to O’Brien, she has spent time working on her technique for the breaststroke in practice and is developing her own method of competing in both the 100 and 200.
“[In] the longer races you should have a strategy to be strong the whole time and not to fall apart or let your stroke fall apart,” O’Brien said. “But for the shorter ones I say go all out like everything you have at that moment.”
O’Brien hopes to improve her times in the breaststroke as the season progresses. Occidental head coach Shea Manning believes that O’Brien has the ability to contend for a SCIAC title.
“We fully expect her to be able to continue to lower those times, especially … for the SCIAC Championships in February,” Manning said via email.