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An Encore Performance

Ari Polychronopoulos ’01 Claims 2005 SCIAC Hammer Championship

Bringing Ari Polychronopoulos ’01 back to complete his final season of Pitzer-Pomona track and field eligibility was just a pipe dream for men’s Head Coach Pat Mulcahy. However, when Polychronopoulos enrolled in Claremont Graduate University to obtain his Masters of Science in Financial Engineering, Mulcahy’s dream became reality. After all, Polychronopoulos had a bone to pick: Despite qualifying for Division III Nationals his senior year in the hammer event, he had missed the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) championship because of a sprained ankle.

Ari Polychronopoulous '01
With an intent look of fierce concentration, Polychronopoulos entered the ring for the final throw of the competition, and of his collegiate career. Polychronopoulos began to spin, swinging the hammer above his head. The crowd, full of his supporters, leaned in anxiously, some quietly muttering, “Come on Ari, you can do it!”

With one final rotation, Polychronopoulos released the hammer, letting out a startling scream, urging the ball on its way. Landing with a solid thud, the officials rushed to measure the competition’s concluding throw. When the final mark was called out at 49.16m, the crowd let out shouts of congratulations as Polychronopoulos shot his fist into the air and grinned. There were, however, two more throws to be made in the competition.

The tension was palpable as Bennett entered the ring, however, the pressure proved to be too much, as he scratched his final throw and had to stick with his best mark of 47.72m.

Cruz, the surprise leader throughout the competition, landed a final throw of 48.20m. This was not enough to keep him at the top; Polychronopoulos came through in the clutch to win the title for Pitzer-Pomona.

Had he known that he would make it on that last throw? “No. I really didn't think I was going to get it,” Polychronopoulos explained. “After not getting the championship my senior year, this is a great feeling.”
Polychronopoulos is a big supporter of Pitzer-Pomona athletics and hopes one day Pitzer will give student-athletes the same quarter credit per semester of participation that the Pomona and CMS athletes receive.

“I think that student-athletes deserve credit for what they do,” Polychronopoulos explained. “Competing in a collegiate sport is a tremendous time dedication and brings a lot of attention to the school, much in the same way as dance, music, art and theater do. Pitzer sees itself as a pioneer for diversity and the sports field is one of the most diverse places on campus. And you have everyone there working together.”

With no more athletic eligibility, athlete and coach are beyond content with how this collegiate career has ended.

“After eight years of working with him on and off, he has really become a good friend, not just an athlete I train,” Mulcahy said.

From now on, friendship between the two will carry on through the coach’s famous carne asada barbeques.

—Catherine Okereke ‘00