Author: Sasha Pokrovskaya
At 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1, I boarded the bus alongside bleary-eyed Cross Country teammates, alumni, coaches and supporters amid pitch darkness on the way to the 2008 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Championships. The ride was uneventful, as students slept or concentrated on the upcoming race. As we stepped off the bus, the stench of manure hit us. “It’s stinky. That’s what we think of the course,” Janet Hume (junior) said.
Before the race, the air was tense. Full of concentration, the men’s team began the quiet warm-up. Conditions were good as the sun shone through the crisp morning air. Unlike the conditions last year, the course was favorable and dry.
Four of the five alumni on the men’s team arrived early, alongside other alumni in a strong show of support for the team. Some even ran the course again, the same course that a year ago had won them the 2007 SCIAC championship title. At this time, Head Couch Robert Bartlett showed a Google map image of the course to a curious parent. As the men’s team warmed up, the women lifted their spirits by drawing whiskers on their faces and putting on temporary tattoos.
After the warm-up, the men huddled, exclaiming “Dos Muchos!” Caitlin Croall ’08 explained that last year’s seniors, while running at the Rose Bowl without their shirts and in short running shorts, passed an elderly lady who said “you guys are just dos muchos.” “What?” they said. “Too (sic) much,” she answered. Ever since then “dos muchos” has become a slogan for the team.
“There is a huge adrenaline rush you get at the start,” Croall said as the men’s team was waiting for the sound of the gun. Oxy led the pack straight from the beginning. About eight minutes into the race, Florian Scheulen from Claremont-Mudd-Scripp (CMS) pushed to the lead with Erik Kleinsasser (first year) close behind. However, this lead did not last long; halfway through the course, Kleinsasser and Keith Blumenfeld (senior) were in the lead. Kleinsasser finished first in a time of 25:43.15 to become SCIAC champion and Runner of the Year.
“Everything went like it was supposed to,” Kleinsasser said. “I wasn’t sure where he [Scheulen] was going to be. He had a great race and pushed me a lot. It was a tough race. I was definitely pushed by Keith and Clay.”
Scheulen finished second, very closely pursued by Blumenfeld, finishing third with a time of 26:18.99. Clay Hoadley (senior) blazed into fifth place (26:18.05). David William Martinez (senior) finished in the top 20 as he took 13th place.
Although the men’s team came in second to CMS at the meet, they claimed the championship title because of their win at Multi-Duals two weeks prior, when CMS took third. Multi-Duals and the Championship Meet both count towards the final score; Multi-Duals contributing 49 percent of the total score and Championship counting for 51 percent. This is the third consecutive year that the men’s team has won the SCIAC championship title.
“We’re not ecstatic about taking second at this meet, but we have regionals to do what we know we can do.” Hoadley said.Sadie Mohler (first year) and Grace Peck (junior) led the women’s team throughout the race in the lead pack. Mohler finished 17th and Peck finished seventh. The women’s team took fifth place at SCIAC.
The women’s team faced more difficult conditions as the scorching Southern California sun heated the morning. “A lot of us aren’t used to running in this heat,” Mohler said. The top seven were mostly first-years. The end of the race gained varied reactions from the women – a mix of tears and smiles. “This is the first time we ran as a team. Which is what we’ve been working on – it’s a good thing.” Mohler said.
After the women’s race, Assistant Coach Derek Turbin, affectionately called Coach Turbo by the team, said, “We’ve got to be proud. We worked hard this season. A little disappointed with the points situation. Some of the team came in a little sore and other teams ran well. For the most part, it went really well.”
On the bus ride back, Bartlett gave a speech. This was the last time of the season that all members of both teams were gathered together since only the top seven of each gender continue on to regionals. He spoke at length about the men’s exceptional performance and the leadership of the team captains, Martinez, Blumenfeld, Peck and Denali Halsey (junior).
He praised the women’s performance at SCIAC as the best in 2008. “Everyone did everything they were supposed to,” he said. “Executed the race plan phenomenally well. Almost all improved in two weeks. That says a lot about all of you and where we’re going to go in the future and next year. I’m disappointed that we came fifth but I’m very proud of everything.” In response, Halsey said, “we ran as a team and that’s all that matters.”
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