Summer 2015 /Untold Stories/

Pomona-Pitzer Cracks Top 50 in Director’s Cup Rankings

For the first time in almost 20 years, Pomona-Pitzer Athletics reclaimed its spot in the top 50 nationally in the 2014–15 Learfield Sports Director’s Cup.

Directors' Cup Logo

The Sagehens ranked 49th nationally (out of 332 NCAA Division III institutions) jumping from 63rd last year and 117th in 2012-13 and placing them second among SCIAC institutions. It is the highest finish for Pomona-Pitzer Athletics in the Director’s Cup standings since a 33rd-place finish in 1996–97.

Sponsored by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), the Director’s Cup is a program that honors institutions maintaining a broad-based program and achieving success in many sports, both men’s and women’s. The standings are calculated via a points system based on how teams finish in their national tournaments.

Pomona-Pitzer had a successful academic year from start to finish, with five teams, as well as numerous individuals, qualifying for the NCAA Championships.

In the fall, men’s soccer won the SCIAC Postseason Tournament to advance to the NCAA Division III Championship for the first time since 1980. Men’s cross country earned a team qualification to the nationals for the third year in a row, by taking a second-place finish in the NCAA West Regionals, and ended in 17th place, the team’s highest finish since 1982. Maya Weigel ’17, meanwhile, earned All-America honors for the women’s cross country team with a 22nd place finish, after claiming first place at the West Regionals.

The winter saw a strong season from the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams, which both finished second in the SCIAC and had national qualifiers. In his first year, Mark Hallman ’18 earned All-America honors by qualifying for the finals in the 200-yard freestyle. For the women’s swimming and diving team, the 800-yard freestyle relay team of Vicky Gyorffy ’15, Maki Tohmon ’17, Kelsey Thomas ’18 and Victoria Vanderpoel ’18 earned All-America honors as well.

The Sagehens made their biggest leap in Director’s Cup standings during the spring semester, thanks to three teams that advanced to the round of 16 in the NCAA Division III tournaments.

Women’s lacrosse reached the round of 16 with its first-ever NCAA tournament win, defeating SCIAC rival Occidental at home after winning its first-ever SCIAC title by four games. Men’s and women’s tennis both moved on to the NCAA Regional Finals in May after earning top-10 rankings in the regular season, with the men reaching as high as third and the women as high as seventh. Men’s tennis defeated Texas-Tyler in the regional semifinals to reach the round of 16, while women’s tennis earned a win over Whitman. In addition, Connor Hudson ’15 qualified for the NCAA Division III Championships both in singles and in doubles after he and doubles partner Kalyan Chadalavada ‘18 reached the finals of the ITA Small College nationals in the fall, earning All-America honors. On the women’s side, Lea Lynn Yen ’16 and Grace Hruska ’18 qualified for the NCAA Championships in doubles.

Women’s water polo, which is not calculated in the Director’s Cup standings due to the small number of participating teams, added to the spring success for Pomona-Pitzer by tying for the SCIAC title with a 10-1 league record, the fourth year in a row that it has earned at least a share of the conference crown.

In addition to team successes in the spring, Weigel completed a fall-spring All-America sweep by finishing in seventh place nationally in the 800 meters for the women’s track and field team, while John Fowler ‘16 earned a top-10 finish (ninth) in the 5,000 meters. Tiffany Gu ’16 also earned a national qualification for the women’s golf team, finishing 30th out of 110 at the NCAA Division III Championships.

The late push in the spring enabled the Sagehens to pass Redlands (56th place) among SCIAC schools.