Cross Country Dominates Division III West Region

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Author: Riley Kimball

The men’s and women’s cross country teams raced against the best teams in the NCAA West Region on Saturday, Nov. 12. The race, hosted by Occidental on Pomona’s campus, was close on both sides, with as many as three places separated by less than 25 points.  In spite of the aggressive field, the number one-seeded men tied for first, and the women’s team, ranked seventh going in, exceeded expectations to take fourth place.

Competing with a strong field, the men tied for first place with Colorado College. The men entered the race as the favorites. However, with six of the seven running making their first appearance at Regionals, victory was no small feat. “For us to come away as co-champions is fantastic not because we ran amazingly well, but because those guys coped incredibly well with the pressure and expectations of being favorite,” said Coach Rob Bartlett. Their first place finish secures the men a spot at Nationals this Saturday, Nov. 19 in Winneconne, Wisconsin. All five Occidental men who scored finished in the top 35, earning them All-Region honors. “We were definitely running for each other, as cliche as that sounds,” said Sebi Devlin-Foltz (senior). 

The women, led by captain Anna Dalton (senior) and Megan Lang (junior), finished in a similarly tight pack, with the front two girls also achieving All-Region finishes. The women faced a formidable set of opponents on Saturday, including nationally 4-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, 20-ranked Lewis & Clark, 28-ranked Willamette and 35-ranked Whittier, making their showing the best of the season. Though ranked seventh entering the race, the women achieved a fourth place finish with their tightest spread of the season. With four of the top five Occidental women finishing in lifetime bests, they performed beyond expectations. “These women couldn’t have run any better or ended their season on a better note,” said Bartlett.

Individually, Occidental produced a number of strong performances. Eric Kleinsasser (senior), fresh off of his fourth consecutive victory at the SCIAC meet, came in third, missing first place by just ten seconds. The three first-years who supported him at SCIAC, Colin Smith, Cole Williams, and Louis Jochems, were hot on his heels, with Sebi Devlin-Foltz (senior) closing out Occidental’s score in twenty-seventh place. Dalton led the women alongside Lang, followed closely by Eliza Dornbush (senior), Sierra Walker (sophomore) and Jenny Wang (sophomore). All of the women scoring finished the 6000 meters between 22:40 and 23:14, a very tight spread in such a heated race.

With Regionals over, the women have completed their season, narrowly missing an At-Large slot at Nationals. Despite the disappointment, the team looks back positively on the season. “The race was a culmination of four years of running for Oxy, but this season was easily the most rewarding,” said Dalton. “We worked harder, ran further, and were a more cohesive team than we have been.”

The men will have their last race of the season this Saturday at the NCAA Division III National Meet. Bartlett and the men are excited for this final race, the culmination of a season’s work. “At Nationals, all the pressure will be gone and all we’re going to have to worry about is running fast and having fun,” he said.

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