Ten Straight! CMS Women's Cross Country Sweeps the Decade with Another SCIAC Title

Ten Straight! CMS Women's Cross Country Sweeps the Decade with Another SCIAC Title

CLAREMONT, Calif. - Sophomore Riley Harmon finished third to lead a pack of five Athenas in the top 10 as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's cross country team used its depth to win the 2019 SCIAC Championship by a convincing 27-point margin over Pomona-Pitzer on Saturday morning.

Pomona-Pitzer had the first and second finishers in the race, but nine CMS runners crossed before the third Sagehen, enabling the Athenas to run away with the league title (37 points to 64). The SCIAC championship marked the tenth in a row for CMS, enabling it to sweep the entire decade of the 2010s with first-place finishes. 

This year's championship wasn't a given, as Pomona-Pitzer came in ranked higher in the regional and national polls after edging CMS by three points at The Master's Invitational in September.  But the team was keenly aware of the streak and was motivated to keep it going. 

"This was our tenth win in a row," said Harmon. "It was very exciting going in, we knew this one meant a lot to all of us. We're really happy with the result, the way it came out."

Harmon was the first Athena to cross the line, coming in third place with a time of 21:56.1.  It continued the big step forward for her sophomore season, after she was the sixth-place finisher for CMS at last year's SCIAC Championships, and the fifth-fastest Athena at the NCAA West Regionals as a first-year. She credits her team for her sophomore leap. 

"I think there was some really good summer training that I had," Harmon said. "And just running with the team, the team has been really great to train with. We've had a really solid pack up in the front and we've been able to work together, and the team energy is great. It makes me want to fight for the team ... every race." 

Runners from Occidental (Sabrina Thurber), Caltech (Claire Hu) and Redlands (Maria Ramirez) came in No. 4-6, before a wave of gold Athena uniforms started flocking to the finish line. Junior Olivia Gleason earned a seventh-place finish as the second CMS runner to cross in 22:40.2, and she was followed five seconds later by junior Abigail Johnson in eighth in 22:45.4. 

Sophomore Brooklyn Button was the ninth-place finisher in 22:47.9 (and the fourth Athena), and junior Dulcie Jones became the fifth and final CMS scorer in tenth place with a time of 22:49.0. 

The Athenas also had five of the 10 runners who finished between 11-20, earning Second-Team All-SCIAC distinction. Sophomore Sophie Gitlin was 11th in 22:52.8, while first-year Isabella Brusco and senior Georgia Scherer finished back-to-back in 13th and 14th with times of 23:00.9 and 23:09.2. Sophomore Emily Clarke was 18th and junior Gabriella Kimmerly was 20th to earn All-SCIAC honors. 

Without an individual champion or runner-up to its credit, it was the team's depth that won the day for CMS. That depth was something that Harmon got a visual of after she crossed the line.

"I didn't know where everybody was behind me," said Harmon. "And then I turn around after I finish and just see tons of Athenas rolling in, and that was incredibly special to watch. Everyone ran just as well as they could have, it was amazing."

With its 10th league title in a row in the books, CMS will be back in action in two weeks to try to keep another streak going when it returns to the Pomona-Pitzer Cross Country Course for the NCAA West Regionals on Nov. 16. The Athenas will try to earn a team qualification to the NCAA Championships (top two in regionals make it automatically) for the 12th straight season.