Brody Barkan (junior) won the 800-meter race in a diving photo finish and placed third in the 1500-meter at a multi-dual meet hosted by Occidental, March 3. Barkan’s performance helped the men’s team defeat Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, though Occidental still lost to Pomona-Pitzer.
Barkan, a first-team All-Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) and All-West cross country runner, said he was excited to run in two events in the meet, although it came as a challenge as the races began less than an hour apart, leaving him little time to rest and recover in between. After placing third and setting a new personal record by four seconds in the 1500 meter, Barkan said he was poised to face off with familiar opponents.
“A lot of the guys on Pomona I’ve raced a lot the last two years of track and I know them really well — I know how they run and they know how I run,” Barkan said. “I kind of more expected to hang back after the 1500 running against guys who were fresh in the 800. But in the opening 200 I kind of just said, ‘Screw, it let’s go,’ and turned it on and just started leading.”
Coming down to the final stretch, Barkan said he could feel his lead dwindling as a Pomona runner closed in. Assistant coach Tyler Yamaguchi said Brody’s will to win came out in the climactic end as he looked to be running out of energy.
“With 200 meters to go, it looked like he was in some serious discomfort,” Yamaguchi said. “But man, he just gutted that thing out and refused to lose.”
At the finish line, Barkan dove chest first to give himself the best shot of holding off the closing Pomona runner, capturing his victory by .06 seconds. After the finish, Yamaguchi noticed one more image of Barkan’s competitive nature and will to win.
“When they dove at the line, the guy who got up immediately was Brody,” Yamaguchi said.
According to one of Barkan’s teammates, Tristan Santos (junior), Barkan’s work ethic and fight inspire others.
“Him and I are training partners with a friendly rivalry, so us chasing each other during workouts and races has made us both better runners,” Santos said via email.
Barkan said his go-to drink is a Yerba Mate from the Cooler, his pregame music comes from Frank Ocean and his favorite class at Occidental is Social Psychology.
Sabrina Degnan (junior) placed in all four throwing events at the same multi-dual meet March 3, placing second in the hammer throw, discus and shot put and third in the javelin. Degnan’s podium finishes helped the women’s team defeat Pomona-Pitzer, although they still lost to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. Degnan comes off a breakout year last season in which she competed nationally in javelin. Reflecting on the past meet, Degnan said she was initially nervous.
“I was actually really happy with how hammer and discus went because I had been learning a new technique for hammer that week and so I was actually kind of nervous to implement it,” Degnan said. “It actually gave me a lot of confidence knowing that I can build off of it now.”
Degnan said she relied on her instincts in her other throwing events, noting how comfortable she already was with the techniques. Looking to the rest of the season, Degnan has big goals for herself and for the women’s team.
“I have a goal to go to nationals again for the javelin,” Degnan said. “I think I have a good journey ahead of me in that.”
According to Degnan, her other goals include achieving a shotput throw over 40 feet and honing in on her new hammer throwing technique. She said she only has to get out of her head and train hard in the weight room and at practice.
Yamaguchi said Degnan’s work ethic and constant attitude shape her as a competitor.
“I never see anything but a really positive attitude about her. When something doesn’t go right, she says ‘alright let’s go! Let’s get it on the next throw,’” Yamaguchi said.
Degnan’s teammate Cody Hamane (senior) expanded on Degnan’s performance as a vice-captain on the team, one of the few appointed junior leaders.
“We look to Sabrina as a leader because she leads by example. She does all the right things as an athlete — she works hard every day, she’s very coachable, very resilient, and carries a positive attitude through everything,” Hamane said via email.
Degnan said her favorite meal on campus is the Sunday omelet bar with a key lime flavored Chobani flip cup yogurt and that her favorite TV show is “Scandal.” She said her favorite class at Occidental is Developmental Psychology.