Westmont Cross Country opened the 2016 season by hosting Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) on Saturday in the Nationball Classic at Santa Barbara’s Chase Palm Park. The annual event has become a tradition for both teams that includes not just a cross country race, but a friendly game of nationball (or dodge ball). This year, the event included a surprise for Westmont’s head coach Russell Smelley.
Before the race began, Smelley was unexpectedly greeted by nine members of the 1996 Westmont Men’s Cross Country team. They came to run in the race and to renew memories of comradery from 20 years ago.
The group included 1996 graduates Paul Ashby, Jim Drake, Todd Farrington and Philip Livingood and Matt Nealon; Matt Thomson from the class of 1997; and 1998 alumni Andy Morales, Matt Pelascini and Kevin Sturm.
“I had a great time at Westmont and had a great time in particular running cross country and track,” said Livingood about his motivation for organizing the event. “Some of my best friends to this day are the guys from the team. We’ve been to each other’s wedding and seen each other’s kids grow up. (The Nationball Classic) seemed liked a great opportunity to try and get everyone together. Westmont is a setting that fosters deep relationship that can last a lifetime.