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Cross Country Season in Review: Success and Promise
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 11/29/2012

Nov. 29, 2012

STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford certainly had its share of success in cross country this season: its’ best NCAA women’s finish in five years, a Pac-12 individual champion in Kathy Kroeger, and an NCAA regional men’s team victory.

But it’s the future of the program that coach Chris Miltenberg, the Franklin P. Johnson Director of Track and Field, is most excited about.

For the Cardinal women, their third-place NCAA finish is simply another indication that they’re “just beginning to scratch the surface of what they’re capable,” Miltenberg said. “It’s a phenomenal sign of what’s to come.”

And for the men, team victories at the NCAA West Regional and high-caliber Wisconsin Invitational highlighted a season that finished in disappointing fashion, with a 16th place at nationals in Louisville, Ky. But the season offered a heavy dose of promise, with only two seniors graduating from its top seven.

“The results at NCAAs aren’t indicative of all the progress we made and all the things that we can take from the season that will make us better next year,” Miltenberg said. “The biggest thing to remember is we were counting on some younger guys that are still getting experience.”

If the season seemed like a whirlwind to Miltenberg, it’s for good reason. Miltenberg, who coached the Georgetown women to an NCAA team title in 2011, began coaching at Stanford the day after the team reported. The first meet took place only five days after he was hired.

“I feel like I came in here very late in the game,” Miltenberg said. “I was jumping right into the fire.”

His first goal was simply to observe – to watch, learn, and listen. Then, he tailored his coaching to the needs of each program.

For the men, “We had a bunch of young guys who had the luxury of being behind great leaders the last couple of years, guys like Chris Derrick, Elliott Heath and Jake Riley,” Miltenberg said. “The guys had to learn how to be dependable and disciplined enough every day and not go along for the ride with the great guys that graduated before. That was a completely new thing for them. It was taking responsibility for this team and taking ownership of it.”

For the women, “It was really working on coming together as a team. We had a lot of great individuals, we had a lot of high goals, but we really got better throughout the season because by working together as a team. They learned how to train together and lift each other up, and you saw the result at NCAA’s.”

The individual highlight was the performance of Kroeger at the Pac-12 meet. After runner-up finishes the previous two years, Kroeger overcame a 10-second deficit during the late stages to run down the leaders during the final stretch, including Oregon runner-up Jordan Hasay, to win the 6-kilometer race in 20:06 at the Robinson Ranch Golf Course in Santa Clarita, Calif.

But Kroeger’s performances in her next two races, though they weren’t victories, were just as impressive to Miltenberg and served as a good lesson for the rest of the Cardinal. In both races, Kroeger exhibited the effort that the coach seeks from his athletes – a perseverance when things aren’t going especially well.

Kroeger was on her own for much of the final stages of the regional – a difficult spot without the benefit of help from other runners – and pushed hard for third place, while helping her team to second.

At the NCAA meet, Kroeger was unable to maintain contact with the lead pack and fell off the pace. But in the midst of a difficult race, she continued to fight and finished 24th, close behind sophomore Aisling Cuffe in 21st and just in front of freshman Cayla Hatton (28th) and Jessica Tonn (43rd).

“The thing I was most proud of with Kathy is she ran a really solid race when things weren’t going perfectly,” Miltenberg said. “And that’s been probably the biggest thing I’ve preached with both these teams. Let’s be the team that doesn’t wait for things to be perfect. Let’s be the team that embraces adversity.

“That’s what separates the good ones from the great ones. Everyone can do well when they’re going great and they feel great. What separates them is if they can go out and run really tough when they’re not at their best.”

Stanford was the only women’s team to place its top four among the top 43 runners at NCAA’s. The Cardinal got a boost from fourth-year junior Justine Fedronic, Stanford's 800-meter record-holder, who was fifth on the team in only the second cross-country meet of her collegiate career.

The strength of the men was its ability to run as a team. At the West Regional, the Cardinal’s top six finished within 20 seconds of each other and all were among the first 13 finishers as the Cardinal scored 45 points and won its third regional title in four years.

Miltenberg challenged his young runners. Sophomore twins Joe and Jim Rosa took it to heart. Of the team’s five main meets, Joe Rosa led the Cardinal in three of them, including placing fourth at regionals and sixth at Pac-12s. Jim Rosa ran No. 1 at the Wisconsin Invitational and senior Benjamin Johnson led the Cardinal at NCAA’s.

“I think about what I know about this group now compared to 2½ months ago and it’s a night and day difference,” Miltenberg said. “I feel I’ve got a great handle on where we’re at and a vision of where we’re going to go. Now I’ve got a lot of work to do to help us get there.”

-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics

* * *

The following are team and individual accomplishments and honors from 2012:

Men’s Team
16th place, NCAA Championships
1st place, NCAA West Regional
2nd place, Pac-12 Championships
1st place, Wisconsin adidas Invitational
1st place, Stanford Invitational
1st place, USF Invitational
1st place, Doc Adams Invitational

Men’s Individuals
Michael Atchoo
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention

Andrew Berberick
Doc Adams Invitational champion

Benjamin Johnson
USTFCCCA All-West Region
All-Pac-12 second team
Pac-12 All-Academic first team
No. 1 Stanford runner at NCAA Championships
10th place, Pac-12 Championships

Kenny Krotzer
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention

Tim Luthin
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention

Erik Olson
USTFCCCA All-West Region

Jim Rosa
USTFCCCA All-West Region
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention
6th place, NCAA West Regional

Joe Rosa
USTFCCCA All-West Region
All-Pac-12 first team
4th place, NCAA West Regional
6th place, Pac-12 Championships

Tyler Stutzman
USTFCCCA All-West Region
Pac-12 All-Academic second team
USF Invitational champion
10th place, NCAA West Regional

Miles Unterreiner
USTFCCCA All-West Region
Pac-12 All-Academic first team

Tyler Valdes
Pac-12 All-Academic second team

* * *

Women’s Team
3rd place, NCAA Championships
2nd place, NCAA West Regional
3rd place, Pac-12 Championships
2nd place, Wisconsin adidas Invitational
1st place, Stanford Invitational
2nd place, USF Invitational

Women’s individuals
Mary Kate Anselmini
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention

Ally Billmeyer
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention

Jaye Buchbinder
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention

Aisling Cuffe
USTFCCCA All-America
USTFCCCA All-West Region
All-Pac-12 second team
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention
USF Invitational champion
No. 1 Stanford runner at NCAA Championships
Member of Stanford’s NCAA third-place team
9th place, NCAA West Regional
10th place, Pac-12 Championships
21st place, NCAA Championships

Justine Fedronic
Member of Stanford’s NCAA third-place team

Julia Foster
Member of Stanford’s NCAA third-place team

Cayla Hatton
USTFCCCA All-America
USTFCCCA All-West Region
Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year
Member of Stanford’s NCAA third-place team
5th place, NCAA West Regional
28th place, NCAA Championships

Kathy Kroeger
Pac-12 individual champion
USTFCCCA All-America
USTFCCCA All-West Region
All-Pac-12 first team
Pac-12 All-Academic first team
Stanford Invitational champion
Tied for 6th all-time (20:13) among Stanford runners on 8K home course
Member of Stanford’s NCAA third-place team
3rd place, NCAA West Regional
24th place, NCAA Championships

Megan Lacy
Member of Stanford’s NCAA third-place team

Jessica Tonn
All-Pac-12 second team
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention
Member of Stanford’s NCAA third-place team

Hannah Varnell
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention


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