LOS ANGELES — Occidental College and Bill Henry Track will play host to the 2014 SCIAC Track and Field Championships on May 2-3. The meet begins with throwing events at noon on Friday.
Defending Champion: La Verne
Cal Lutheran 8-0
La Verne 7-1
La Verne and Cal Lutheran come in as the top two teams, with the showdown between their top distance athletes potentially making for the most exciting storyline of the meet.
CLU's Melissa Skiba, the SCIAC record holder in the 1,500 meter, and ULV's Lenore Moreno, the SCIAC record holder in the 10,000, meet in the middle in the 5,000. Skiba is currently the nation's top woman in the 1,500 (4:26.13) and Moreno is No. 1 in the 10,000 (33:49.04). Both have been on national podiums within the last year. Lenore was the NCAA indoor champion in the 5,000 and Skiba was third last year in the outdoor 5,000.
"Honestly, for the (SCIAC) women's 5K, I want to skip coaching and go sit in the stands and watch these women race," Oxy head coach Rob Bartlett said. "I know some of the other coaches feel the same way. They are incredible competitors and it is sure to be an exciting race."
Distance events will be a theme not just for ULV and CLU as they try to bring home the conference championship, but also for third-place Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. The Athenas are deep in the 5,000, with six of the current top 10 in SCIAC, and in the 3,000 steeplechase, with five of the current top six.
In the field events, the triple jump matchup between CMS' Ellyn Erving and CLU's Amanda Hamilton is one to watch. Erving comes into the meet ranked second nationally in the event (39' 6.5") and Hamilton is third (39' 1.25").
Throw fans should keep an eye on La Verne's Deanna Doss, who's currently No. 1 in the conference in the hammer throw (175' 5"), second in the discuss (127' 3") and third in the shot put (38' 9.75").
Defending Champion: Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
La Verne 5-2
Cal Lutheran 4-3
CMS distance athlete Evan Molineux leads the defending champion Stags in their quest for consecutive SCIAC titles. Molineux is the reigning champ in the 1,500 and also current No. 1 in the conference in the 3,000 steeplechase (9:35.32).
But if the Stags are going to repeat, they'll have to catch Redlands and star athlete Darron Usher, who will most likely be the highest point scorer in the entire meet. Usher is the current SCIAC leader in the triple jump (46' 5.5") and high jump (6' 6.75") and is tied for the conference lead in the 110 hurdles (15.23 with Cal Lutheran's Erik Fruth). He's also tied for second in the long jump (23' 5.5") with Oxy's Kevin Cox, trailing CMS' Matt Wong (23' 7.25"), and ranks second in the 400 hurdles (55.02) behind freshman teammate Austin Tribble (54.95).
In the 100, Occidental's Jonathan Padron is looking for his third SCIAC championship on his home track against current conference leader Joey Colucci of Redlands (10.71).
Colucci also runs a leg on the Bulldogs' 4x100 team — along with Usher, Taylor Browning and Myles Speegle — that currently is tied with La Verne (Nick Gonsalves, James Francis, Robert Oshodin and Chancise Watkins) for the top mark in the conference (41.37).
Watkins is also a favorite in some individual sprints. The senior comes into the meet ranked No. 1 in the conference in the 200 (21.29) and 400 (47.72).
Paul Messana, Pomona-Pitzer's freshman standout, is one to watch in the 800 as the conference's current leader (1:51.35).
Occidental looks to go 1-2 in the 5,000, with two distance stars that SCIAC cross country fans know all about. John Guzman Aguilar won the SCIAC Cross Country Championship race and Colin Smith finished second. So far this track season, Smith has been leading Guzman Aguilar as he recovers from an injury. Smith is ranked first in the 5,000 (14:25.21) and Guzman Aguilar is second (14:40.73).
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