POMONA, CA – On a day where temperatures hit above 100 degrees, the Leopard XC teams traveled to Pomona College to compete in a season opening tri-meet with Pomona-Pitzer and Occidental. The course was shortened and altered slightly due to the weather conditions, with the women running just over 2 miles, and the men running 3 miles – instead of the usual 6k and 8k distances. Both teams are in a heavy training phase, and used the meet as an opportunity to test out their racing legs and gain valuable experience to prepare them for the rest of the season.
On the men's side, the Leopards ran a strong team race, to place 2nd behind a Pomona Pitzer squad that is ranked #1 nationally and 2x defending national champions. Junior TK Berhe took first place overall in the race with his signature fast kick, moving from 4th to first in the last 300 meters. The highlight of the day for the Leopards however was Junior Edward Carrillo's 5th place finish, providing another low score on a day when last year's top runner Michael Sahagun was sitting out with some minor knee pain.
Coming in strong behind Edward in 11th and 12th overall were Sophomore Efren Martin and Junior Jose Reyes. First Year Nicolas Saenz also came through with a strong performance to close the door on our scoring in 15th place.
Many of the First Year men gained some great experience in their first college races and executed really well despite the adverse conditions. Across the board, the team showed they can compete with the best in the conference – finishing only 11 points behind Pomona-Pitzer.
"We showed a lot of poise and maturity among the upper-class group today," said Coach Norton, "guys ran within themselves and we put together a lot of good solid races. We know there is a lot more in the tank than we showed today, but the team showed they can race well with a string of 90 mile weeks on their legs and compete under adverse conditions. A big emphasis for us this year is consistency and we successfully showed that today. If we keep stringing together efforts like this we'll be in a good spot to be a competitive squad in October and November once we get Michael back."
Pomona Pitzer won the meet with 33 points, followed by La Verne with 44 and Occidental with 52.
The Leos return to the trails to put in a couple more weeks of training before heading to the UCR Invitational on September 17th.