Oct. 26, 2012
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. - Stanford seeks its 16th women’s team title and 14th men’s when the Cardinal competes at the Pac-12 Cross Country Championships on Saturday at the Robinson Ranch Golf Club in Santa Clarita, Calif.
The Stanford men were second and the women third last year, after sweeping the titles in 2010. The Cardinal men, ranked No. 3 in the nation and the Stanford women, ranked No. 4, are among the favorites. Only the Colorado men (No. 2) and the Oregon women (No. 3) are ranked higher among Pac-12 teams.
In the women’s competition, senior Kathy Kroeger enters the 6-kilometer race (3.73 miles, 9:40 a.m.) as a two-time runner-up and will attempt to become the Cardinal’s first individual champion since Arianna Lambie won the last of her three consecutive titles in 2007. She leads a young team that has performed above expectations, with its second-place finish at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Oct. 12.
Among the men, Stanford is coming off a victory over a stacked field at the Wisconsin Invitational on Oct. 12 that included six top-10 teams and 13 in the Top 20. Stanford’s strength is in its depth. Any of several runners could lead the Cardinal over the 8K course (4.97 miles, 10:40 a.m.). Stanford has had which has had six different individual champions since 2000, most recently Elliott Heath in 2010.
Stanford is competing under first-year coach Chris Miltenberg, who was hired on Aug. 27. The team competed in its first meet, at the USF Invitational, only five days later.
The following is a closer look at the meet:
Pac-12 Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships
Where: Robinson Ranch Golf Club (Santa Clarita, Calif.)
When: Saturday (Women, 9:30 a.m.; Men, 10:40 a.m.)
Distance: Women, 6 kilometers (3.73 miles); Men, 8K (4.97 miles)
Live Coverage: Live updates can be found at http://championships.pac-12.com/cross-country/
TV: The Pac-12 Networks will air the meet on a tape-delayed basis. Jim Watson will provide the play-by-play and Dwight Stones will serve as the analyst. The meet will be shown at these times:
Nov. 5 - 6 p.m. PT
Nov. 6 - 7 p.m. PT
Nov. 7 - 11 p.m. PT
Nov. 8 - 6 a.m. PT, 11 a.m. PT
Men’s Preview: The meet is expected to come down to either of three teams: No. 2 Colorado, No. 3 Stanford and No. 8 Stanford. Each has strong credentials. In the two biggest meets of the regular-season, Colorado won the 40-team Pre-Nationals at the NCAA championships course in Louisville, Ky., with Oregon third. And Stanford was the winner over a strong 45-team field at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational in Madison. Colorado, the defending Pac-12 champ, was dominant at the Pre-Nationals, scoring 72 points to win by 55 over runner-up BYU. Stanford, however, surprised many by winning over a field that included six top-10 teams in Madison and 13 of the Top 20. Also be aware of No. 15 UCLA, an improving team with the home-course advantage.
In Stanford’s Favor: Stanford and Colorado boast strong depth, but Stanford’s edge is its ability to run as a pack. In winning the Wisconsin Invitational on Oct. 12, Stanford’s top five finished within 16 seconds of each other. In winning the Stanford Invitational on Sept. 29, the top-five gap was 37 seconds. Twins Jim and Joe Rosa have swapped top Stanford finishes at the team’s two major meets, with Miles Unterreiner right behind in both cases. Stanford is undefeated in each of the three meets in which it’s fielded a full team: the USF Invitational at Golden Gate Park, as well as the Stanford and Wisconsin invitationals.
Women’s Preview: There couldn’t be a more unpredictable race, with four Pac-12 teams ranked from Nos. 3-6 in the USTFCCCA rankings in this order: No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Stanford, No. 5 Washington, and No. 6 Arizona. Stanford beat Arizona and Washington among a 48-team field in Wisconsin, with Stanford’s Kathy Kroeger finishing as the Pac-12’s top finisher in that race, in fifth, and beat defending conference champ Katie Blood of Washington.
In Stanford’s Favor: Senior Kathy Kroeger, who has finished the conference meet second twice, would seem to be driven to break her streak of frustration. Kroeger, an All-American in cross country and track, is injury free and has the motivation to make the race her own. Stanford’s problem, however, is identifying a No. 5 runner. Nos. 1-4 are strong enough, especially with the addition of freshman Cayla Hatton as a solid No. 2. Can a freshman such as Rebecca Mehra or Cami Chapus have the breakthrough meet that Stanford needs to solidify a top-five that can compete with anyone in the country? The gap between Nos. 1 and 5 in Wisconsin was 1:09.
Last Year: The Stanford men were second in 2011 in Litchfield Park, Ariz., just seven points behind winner Colorado, 46-53, despite placing four in the top 12. Chris Derrick covered the 8K course at Wigwam Golf Course in a fast 22:45, but still found himself eight seconds behind Arizona’s Lawi Lalang. Stanford’s women were led by Kathy Kroeger, who ran down defending champion Jordan Hasay, and finished second. Stanford was third in a close finish among several teams.
Stanford’s Conference History:
• Stanford teams have won a combined 28 team titles.
• Since 1993, Stanford teams have won a combined 27 of a possible 38 conference titles.
• Only three times in the past 19 years has Stanford failed to win a team title.
• The women have won 15 titles in the past 19 years, including a stretch of 12 consecutive, from 1996-2007.
• The men have won 12 titles in the past 19 years, including a stretch of six consecutive, from 2000-05.
• Men: Erik Olson (2010, 2nd team; 2011, 2nd team), Miles Unterreiner (2009, 2nd team; 2010, 2nd team).
• Women: Kathy Kroeger (2010, 1st team; 2011, 1st team), Jessica Tonn (2010, 2nd team; 2011, 2nd team).
The Coach: This is the first Pac-12 Championships meet for Chris Miltenberg, the Franklin P. Johnson Director of Track and Field and head cross country coach. Miltenberg came from Georgetown where he was the associate head coach for track and field and the head women's cross-country coach. He led the Hoyas to the 2011 NCAA title in women's cross country and was named the USTFCCCA National Coach of the Year.
The Course: The races will be run on a golf course at the Robinson Ranch Golf Club in Santa Clarita, Calif. The course consists of rolling fairways and several sharp turns, but no net elevation gain. There also will be no shade. The weather is forecast to be sunny, with high temperatures in the low- to mid-80s. The men’s 8K course consists of three 2K loops and two 1K loops. The women’s course has two 2K loops and two 1K loops.
Stanford men’s past Pac-12 team champions (13):
1985, 1993, 1996-98, 2000-05, 2009-10
Stanford women’s past Pac-12 team champions (15):
1993-94, 1996-2007, 2010