The Occidental men’s track team improved its SCIAC dual-meet record to 7-1 Saturday, sweeping La Verne (84-78), Pomona-Pitzer (107-50) and Redlands (98-64) at SCIAC Multi Dual 3.
On the track, 400-meter hurdler Jesse Wong (senior) broke both his season time and the SCIAC-best mark with a time of 54.48, surging to the finish in the last 100 meters to win a close race. Colin Smith (senior) scored big for Oxy in the distance events, coasting to a victory in the 1,500-meter with a 4:06.56 mark. Despite a second-place finish against top-ranked Redlands, the men’s 4×400-meter relay team of Alex Nieves* (senior), Gabriel Barrett-Jackson (first-year), Hugh Pegan (sophomore) and Jeh Johnson (sophomore) posted the fourth-fastest time in Division III at 3:15.09.
“Every point mattered from everybody on the team,” Smith said. “Everybody stepped up today and personally, I had to step up and get us as many points as possible.”
High jumper Taylor Walton (first-year) and thrower Noah Winnick (junior) continued to flex their muscles, earning points for the Tigers on the field. Winnick reached personal bests in a third-place hammer throw (147′ 08″) and third-place shot put (44′ 05″), and Walton cleared 6′ 6.75″ placing first in the event.
“Today was a huge meet for us,” Winnick said. “Track is an individual sport in some senses, but today we came together and it showed.”
Head coach Rob Bartlett attributes the team’s success Saturday to their recent workouts, which have been quicker and less endurance-based.
“The whole team has been working hard all season and really deserved the successes that they had today,” Bartlett said via email. “Our recent workouts have been going well and as a coaching staff we expected some exciting performances today.”
The women’s team, which has battled injuries all season, lost to the three teams in Saturday’s meet. However, their performance was not without a few key highlights.
Hurdler Isabelle Dunne (first-year) finished second in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:04.28 in her return to the track after a month on the sidelines with a pulled hip flexor. The time earned her a lifetime best and a fifth-place ranking on the Occidental all-time board. Distance-wise, Mel Devoney* (sophomore) placed fourth in the 1500-meter race with a season-best time of 4:54.07, which was just one second short of her personal record.
“My coach told me to focus on form and not how tired I was, and then the speed will come,” Devoney said. “I had a goal in mind, which led to a good race for me.”
On the whole, the women’s team looks to stay healthy going into SCIACs and moving forward after the season.
“We are all very talented; we just don’t have the depth right now that we need to be competitive,” Dunne said. “We hope recruiting and staying healthy will help make us more competitive next year.”
Barlett expressed confidence in both his teams—particularly on the men’s side—as they prepare for SCIACs next month.
“Moving on to the SCIAC Championship meet, both teams need to continue to keep working hard,” Barlett said via email. “If we take care of the process of training … and focus on having fun and competing hard, the results will take care of themselves.”
Both Tiger teams compete in the Mt. SAC relays next weekend followed by the SCIAC Championship meet at home on May 1–2.
*Alex Nieves and Mel Devoney are staff members of The Weekly.