Tiger Track Runs Over Their Competition

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Author: Sharen Cervantes

On Feb. 21, Occidental’s Track and Field team will ring in the 2009 season at Pomona-Pitzer with the Annual All-Comers Meet. They are looking to overcome a string of fourth place finishes in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. This time around, the ambitious Tigers are aiming high, hoping to improve their standing through drills and mock races on the Oxy track.

“I think one of the goals for both the men’s and women’s team is to finish higher at the SCIAC finals than last year,” Adrienne Daniels (sophomore) said. “The point spread last year was much closer than in the past and kept both teams at fourth place.”

To achieve their objective, the team is relying heavily upon both new talent and returning athletes -including four All-SCIAC winners and several All-SCIAC honorees.

While the women’s team boasts 31 returning runners, the men’s team welcomes back 23 athletes. Seventeen runners join the Tiger family this season, nine men and eight women.

These 17 first-time Oxy athletes are a source of excitement for both returning team members and coaches.”I am looking forward in particular to seeing Jeff Ross and Will Mosely-both first-years-compete,” Eric Kleinsasser (first-year) said. “Given their high school backgrounds, they have the potential to impress this season.”

While naturally talented on the track, the team’s first-year members still have to work hard to make sure they put their best foot forward come Feb. 21.

“This season, three other freshman and I are learning how to do the steeplechase, which is 7.5 laps, with four barriers per lap, including one water jump,” Eliza Dornbush (first-year) said. “It’s a pretty hardcore event.”

Despite the tough demands of the sport, none of the runners are complaining. In fact, track is the best part of Occidental for several of the athletes.”At Oxy, Track and Field has been my anchor,” Elise Burger (sophomore) said. “No matter what crazy things may be going on in my life, I always have practice to keep me sane.”

If anything, Track gives these Tigers a chance to escape the books and get some fresh air. “Track and field lets me release energy and stress while spending time with my friends and having a fun time,” Burger added. “It is something I can look forward to everyday.” Because Track is divided into several individual races, not all the Tigers train in precisely the same way. Just as every race is unique, the preparation for each team member is unique as well. “For the 4 x 100 meter relay, we hold separate practices from the whole team to work on passing and timing the handoffs,” Daniels said. “Practicing for the hurdles involves a lot of the same ideas; it’s very much a technical race, so it involves a lot of repetitive drills and practice to make sure the race goes smoothly.”

If the team has any say, all the races this season will go smoothly. In particular, promising middle-distance runners will ensure that Oxy ends the season on a high note.

“We have a strong group of middle distance runners on the men’s side,” Kleinsasser said. “The 800 meter [races] should be an exciting event to watch this season.”

Stay tuned as the Tigers run their hearts out this coming Saturday, Feb. 21 in the city of Claremont.

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