The history of athletics at Pomona College and more recently of
Pomona and Pitzer Colleges is as rich, complex, and storied as the
Intercollegiate play began in 1895, when Pomona College's football, baseball, and track teams competed against other prominent west coast institutions. From 1895 until 1946, Pomona College competed as a single college under a variety of nicknames: The "Blue and White," the Huns, the Sage Hens, and simply Pomona were all used interchangeably.
In 1946, the college joined with neighboring Claremont Men's College to form the Pomona-Claremont Sagehens. This union was an extremely successful one that yielded three consecutive conference titles in football, from 1954-1956, including a still unmatched undefeated season in 1954. In 1956, the two colleges separated and began to compete independently. In 1970, seven years after its founding, Pitzer College joined Pomona in athletics under an interim basis that in 1972 became permanent. The Pomona-Pitzer athletic tradition continues to this day.
The Southern California Athletic Conference was formed in 1908, but folded in 1911 with the withdrawal of the University of Southern California. In 1914, representatives from Pomona College, Occidental College, and USC met to form the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC). In 1915, USC again withdrew citing a desire to compete against larger schools. This opened the door for Whittier College, the University of Redlands, and Throop College (later changed to the California Institute of Technology).
As a founding member of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC), and one of the first athletic programs on the west coast, Pomona College has played a significant role in the history of intercollegiate athletics. From 1897 to 1925, the Pomona football team played USC 20 times, with a 4-12-4 overall record. From 1921 thru 1931, the Blue and White played UCLA 12 times, compiling an impressive 6-5-1 record. On October 6, 1923, Pomona and USC played in the inaugural game at the Los Angeles Coliseum, with the Trojans prevailing 23-7. On Thanksgiving Day, 1926 Pomona College and the newly christened Wildcats of the University of Arizona squared off for the first U.A. homecoming game; the Wildcats defeated Pomona 7-6.
Pomona College introduced the sport of women's basketball to southern California colleges. In 1903, the first women's basketball team was organized (see photo, below), three years before the formation of the men's team, and competed against local high schools.
It would not be until 1909, however, that the women would be able to compete against other collegiate competition. On February 20, 1909, the Blue and White fell to USC 17 to 3.
The men's cross country team swept the first five places in the inaugural SCIAC Championship meet held during the 1915-16 academic year (see story).
Many legends have graced the athletic fields at Pomona College
as both player and coach. Byron Van Leuven, the school's first
football coach, was also at the time, the star halfback and team
trainer. Robert Strehle '19, for whom the current track and field
facilities are named, was a former standout athlete, coach, and
athletic director at Pomona. In 1917, Strehle ran the fastest 220
yard low hurdle time recorded on the west coast. 1904 graduate and
former standout tennis player, Ralph Noble served as the head
football coach from 1906-1907. No account of Pomona College
athletic history would be complete however without mention of Earl
Jay "Fuzz" Merritt.
Merritt, a 1925 graduate and a former football, track, baseball, and basketball star was hired by the college in September of 1925 as a freshman advisor and instructor of physical education. From 1935 thru 1942 and 1946 thru 1958, Merritt guided the Sage Hens to a 95-59-9 record. In 1961, Merritt retired from Pomona College, and in 1991, Alumni Field was renamed Earl J. "Fuzz" Merritt Field.
Recent Athletic History