CMS Women's Cross Country Aims for 10th Straight SCIAC Title Saturday

Dulcie Jones finished eighth overall for CMS at last year's SCIAC Championships.
Dulcie Jones finished eighth overall for CMS at last year's SCIAC Championships.

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's cross country team will try to sweep the decade of the 2010s with SCIAC Championships when it tries to win its tenth in a row on Saturday morning in Claremont, beginning at 9:15 a.m.

The Athenas will have a tough challenge this fall from Pomona-Pitzer, which is currently ranked ahead of CMS in both the regional and national rankings. The two programs had a very tight battle at The Master's Invitational on Sept. 28, with the Sagehens winning by only three points over the 5K race, which is shorter than the SCIAC Championship's 6K course, after which Pomona-Pitzer moved in front of CMS in the polls. 

After graduating its two top runners from last season (Natalie Marsh and Malea Martin), the Athenas have bounced back due in large part to the emergence of a strong sophomore class. Riley Harmon and Sophie Gitlin were the top two finishers for CMS in its most recent outing at the UCSD Triton Invitational on Oct. 12, while Brooklyn Button was fifth. A year ago, Harmon usually ran No. 4 or No. 5 for the Athenas in the postseason, while Gitlin and Button were outside of the team's top seven, but this year, they could all be in the top five scorers for CMS.   

Junior Abigale Johnson will also be a key runner for the Athenas this postseason after she was the top finisher for CMS at last year's SCIAC Championships, finishing just ahead of Martin and Marsh with a 23:29.2 to come in fourth overall. Junior Dulcie Jones, who was eighth in the SCIAC Championships last year, and senior Georgia Scherer are also back from last year's top seven, and either could break into the top five scorers for CMS as well, while junior Olivia Gleason and first-year Isabella Brusco have also been in the top five for the Athenas this season.

That depth has been a key factor in the CMS success in recent years, as Pomona-Pitzer actually had the top two finishers at last year's SCIAC Championships, but the Athenas were able to earn a comfortable team win by 22 points due to having seven of the top 14 finishers.  CMS has several runners who could break into the top five with a strong race, including senior Alexandra Lambros, juniors Gabriella Kimmerly, Jackie McVay and Samantha Baker, sophomore Emily Clarke, and first-year Anika Kimme, who have all been in the top 10 for the Athenas at different points this fall. 

The SCIAC Championships will be held at the Pomona-Pitzer course, which begins on its soccer field and ends at the Strehle Track and Field Complex, looping past the track on several occasions before the finish. The Athenas haven't competed on the Pomona-Pitzer course this season, opting to compete at UC San Diego rather than at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational, but they regularly practice on the course and the returning athletes have run there numerous times, giving them plenty of familiarity with the nuances of the course.

CMS will get to compete on the same course again in two weeks when the NCAA West Regionals will be held at Pomona-Pitzer when the Athenas will try to keep another streak going, earning a team qualification to nationals for the 12th year in a row.