Occidental’s Men’s and Women’s track and field teams took on Pomona-Pitzer and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) in their first Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) dual meet of the season Saturday, Mar. 3. The men’s team defeated CMS but lost to Pomona-Pitzer and the women defeated Pomona-Pitzer but lost to CMS. The University of La Verne and Chapman University also competed at the meet.
Due to track and field scoring method in the SCIAC, Occidental was not in direct competition with La Verne or Chapman, meaning both the men’s and women’s SCIAC dual meet records sit at one win and one loss. This record, at the end of the season, will make up 25 percent of each teams overall SCIAC standing, with the other 75 percent determined by the SCIAC championships which will take place on April 27–28.
Robert Bartlett, head coach of the men’s and women’s track and field teams, explained that the teams are not yet at full strength due to widespread illnesses, injuries and some athletes who play other sports not yet joining the team. Because of this, Bartlett said he was relatively happy with each team’s performance but has higher expectations for later in the season.
“We are not really at full strength so our expectations were not super high,” Bartlett said. “We were pleased to be 1–1 but not satisfied. We are hoping we are going to be able to beat the teams that we lost to later in the season.”
One athlete who is finally getting back to full strength is Allison Kilday (junior), who said she felt this would be her breakout season after suffering from illness in both her first year and sophomore campaigns. Kilday won the 400-meter hurdles with a personal best time of 1:05.12 and also ran the final leg for the victorious Occidental 4-X-400-meter relay team, who collectively posted a time of 4:07.09. In the hurdles event, Kilday defeated Occidental’s own and defending SCIAC champion Isabelle Dunne (senior). Kilday felt the relay victory was a special moment and thanked the entire track and field team for cheering her to victory.
“It was so amazing to come around the last corner and have everyone yelling and screaming and telling me I could do it,” Kilday said. “I don’t think I would have been able to do it without all the support of my team.”
On the men’s side, Bartlett pointed out Brody Barkan (junior) as one of the day’s standout performers. Barkan edged out a familiar rival in Pomona-Pitzer’s Nick Vucovich (senior) to win the 800-meter, with a time of 1:56.26. With the two neck-and-neck down the home stretch, Brody said he decided to make one final effort with just five meters left in the race.
“I was like ‘you know what? I’ve got to go for it,'” Barkan said. “I just threw my body at the line.”
The last-ditch effort paid off for Barkan as he clinched victory by .06 of a second.
“I was lying on the ground waiting to hear,” Barkan said. “They said my name over the loud-speaker and I freaked out because I was so happy that I got the win.”
Barkan also posted a strong showing in the 1500-meter where he came in third and in the process, beat his personal best in the event by over four seconds, finishing with a time of 3:56.67.
Barkan said one of the team’s goals for the season was to win a SCIAC championship, a sentiment that was shared by Bartlett.
“The men have placed second in the conference for three straight years,” Bartlett said. “We would like to get over the hump and win, so we’ll see how things progress.”
Bartlett has similarly high hopes for the women’s team.
“On the women’s side, the last two years they’ve been second and third, and so we’re hoping they’ll be again in the top two and hopefully as close to winning as possible,” Bartlett said.
Next up for both track and field teams is a meet at Westmont College, March 22.