Sept. 22, 2010
2010 STANFORD INVITATIONAL
Stanford cross country is set to host the 37th edition of the Stanford Invitational this Saturday at the Stanford Golf Course. The annual meet is one of the largest cross country meets of the season with its combination of high school and collegiate competition. This year's collegiate races should be highly competitive with several ranked teams, including the No. 1 Stanford men and the No. 13 Stanford women. The 8,000-meter men's collegiate race will take place at 10:50 am, while the women's 6,000-meter collegiate race is at 11:30am. High school races begin at 9:00am and will go throughout the day.
The No. 1 Stanford men swept the meet last season, but will have a much more difficult time this season as No. 4 Northern Arizona is also in this year's field. Northern Arizona is led by national runner-up from a year ago David McNeil and has a deep and talented team. McNeil and others are entered, but it remains to be seen if NAU will indeed run their full `A' team. If they do, it would be an early showdown of two of the favorites for a national title on the men's side. Other ranked teams entered on the men's side are No. 15 Arkansas as well as UCLA, California, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly and Long Beach State who are all ranked in the top-15 in the West Region. On the women's side, the No. 13 Cardinal will look to once again win their home meet. The Cardinal are the only nationally ranked team in the field, but will see good competition from several teams ranked in the West Region. California, UC Davis, San Francisco, Loyola Marymount, UCLA, Cal Poly and Long Beach State are all ranked in the top-15 in the region.
LAST SEASON AT THE STANFORD INVITATIONAL
Last season both the men and women took care of business in convincing fashion at their home meet. The men scored a perfect 15 points, while second place California had 101 and UC Davis had 102. Chris Derrick took the individual title, but finished in a group with teammates, Benjamin Johnson, Jacob Riley and Brendan Gregg in 23:54. Miles Unterreiner rounded out the top five with a time of 24:10. On the women's side, Stanford scored 24 points compared to 100 for California who placed second. Unnatthaced runner Tara Erdmann took the individual title, while Kathy Kroeger (20:35) led Stanford with a third-place finish. Also in the top ten were Kate Niehaus (20:39) who placed fourth, Alex Dunne (20:44) who was sixth, Alex Gits (20:50) who was seventh and Stephanie Marcy (20:53) who was ninth.
STANFORD COURSE RECORDS
The men will run the 8,000-meter course, which has a record time of 23:03.1 set by Galen Rupp of Oregon at the 2006 Pac-10 Championships. The Stanford record on the 8K course was set by Neflatem Araia with a time of 23:15.4, also at the 2006 Pac-10 Championships. For the women's 6,000-meter course, Stanford's Arianna Lambie has run the two fastest times. Her time of 19:29.3 at the 2005 NCAA West Regional is easily the record. Lambie not only holds the two fastest times by anyone, but the four fastest times by a Stanford athlete.
While the full Stanford teams will be making its debut on Saturday, a small group did run at the Jim Heval Twilight Invitational at Nevada on September 4. Despite running just five runner per race, the Cardinal won both the men's and women's races. Alex Gits took the individual title on the women's side to lead Stanford to just 27 points. On the men's side, J.T. Sullivan placed second overall to lead the men. The Cardinal finished with 34 points, compared to 37 from second-place UC Riverside.
The Stanford men return six of the seven runners from last season's team that competed at the national championships. The Cardinal were ranked No. 1 in the nation for most of last year, before inexplicably falling to 10th at the NCAA meet. With that as a memory, the Cardinal are dedicated to returning to the NCAA meet to win an NCAA title this season. Stanford has not won an NCAA title on the men's side since 2003, but has the talent to do so this season. The Cardinal have five All-Americans on its roster, including Chris Derrick who placed third at the NCAA meet last season. Elliott Heath was also an All-American in cross country, while Derrick, Heath, Jacob Riley, J.T. Sullivan and Dylan Ferris earned All-America honors on the track. In addition, Brendan Gregg, Benjamin Johnson and Miles Unterreiner were each in the top five in cross country at different times last season.
The Cardinal women are now two years removed from its run of three consecutive national titles. After losing so many talented runners to graduation, the women have been young and rebuilding the past two years. Now, they appear ready to return to national prominence this season. The Cardinal return five of seven runners from last year's NCAA meet, including Stephanie Marcy and Kathy Kroeger who earned All-America honors during the track season. In addition, senior Alex Gits is back for her final year as the final link to the 2007 national title team where she was a scoring runner. Also returning are Alex Dunne who had an outstanding freshmen season and veterans of the NCAA meet, Georgia Griffin and Emilie Amaro.