CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's cross country team will be trying to bring back a SCIAC title for the first time since 2016 when it heads across the street to the Pomona-Pitzer Cross Country course for the league championship this Saturday at 8:30 a.m.
The Stags won five conference championships in a row from 2012-16, but has finished third behind Pomona-Pitzer and Occidental each of the last two years. Last fall, CMS bounced back to tie Pomona-Pitzer at the NCAA West Regionals, as both earned their way to the NCAA Division III Championships.
Expectations are sky-high for the Stags heading into the postseason after a very successful fall season, which currently sees them ranked No. 8 nationally, although No. 3 Pomona-Pitzer will present a formidable challenge once again. CMS did finish ahead of the Sagehens head-to-head at the UC Riverside Invitational to move in front of Pomona-Pitzer in the rankings, but Pomona-Pitzer had a strong finish at the Wisconsin-Oshkosh Invitational on Oct. 19 and moved back in front.
CMS came into this season with six of its top seven runners back from last year, and welcomed back senior Thomas D'Anieri, a top-100 runner at nationals in 2017 who studied abroad last fall. D'Anieri has gotten back into form this season and is coming off a first-place finish in his most recent event at the UCSD Triton Invitational.
The Stags have captured the SCIAC Men's Cross Country Athlete of the Week honor four times, and D'Anieri hasn't been one of them. Junior Stevie Steinberg earned it after the opening weekend at the Biola Invitational and again after The Master's Invitational, while sophomore Kyril Van Schendel won it two straight weeks after the UC Riverside Invitational and the Coyote Challenge, when he finished first to lead a 1-4 finish for the Stags.
Sophomore Miles Christensen also has the potential to run near the front of the pack at this year's SCIAC Championships after he was the top runner for the Stags in the postseason last year, coming in third at the NCAA West Regionals and finishing in the top 100 at nationals. Junior Will Kimball was also in the top seven for CMS last year and has routinely been in the top five scorers for the Stags this fall.
This year's Stag squad also has some quality depth with several runners in position to break into the top five with strong races. Senior Wilson Ives and first-years Daniel Krasemann and Hnery Pick have been in the top five this year for CMS, while sophomore Adam Wilkinson, junior Daniel Sealand, and first-years Noah Battaglia, Will Wallace and Gus Albach have been in the CMS top 10 in the last two races.
The SCIAC Championship will take place at the Pomona-Pitzer Cross Country course, which begins on the soccer field and ends at the Strehle Track and Field Complex, looping past the track on several occasions before the finish. CMS did not compete on the course this season, opting to travel to UC San Diego instead of entering the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational on Oct. 12, but they practice on the course regularly and the returning runners have raced there several times, giving them strong 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 Stags will try to earn a team qualification to nationals (which are given automatically to the top two finishers) for the 12th season in a row.