Nov. 9, 2012
SEATTLE - For the 19th consecutive year, both the Stanford's men's and women's cross country teams advanced to the NCAA Championships through their performances at the West Regionals.
The No. 3 Stanford men captured their third regional title in four years and the No. 5 Cardinal women were second under sunny skies and mid-40-degree temperatures at Jefferson Park Golf Course on Friday. Only the top two teams in each of nine regional meets received automatic berths into the NCAA Championships on Saturday, Nov. 17 in Louisville, Ky. Others will be awarded on an at-large basis.
In the 10,000-meter men's race (6.2 miles), Stanford's top six runners finished within 20 seconds of each other and all were among the first 13 finishers as the Cardinal scored 45 points to crush runner-up Portland (107).
In the 6,000-meter women's race (3.7 miles), Pac-12 champion Kathy Kroeger placed third - her highest regional finish - to lead Stanford to 85 points, behind only Oregon's 44. Jordan Hasay, Oregon's Pac-12 runner-up, won the individual title in 19:16. Kroeger finished in 19:27.
For the 17th time in 19 years, Stanford claimed at least one regional team title. It was the 13th men's title for the Cardinal and first under new coach Chris Miltenberg, the Franklin P. Johnson Director of Track and Field.
"We did everything we talked about," Miltenberg said. "We did all the things we needed to practice going into next week - being assertive, building together, and running strong to the finish."
Joe Rosa was fourth in 29:44 to lead the Cardinal, but the strength of the team is its ability to run together, which was never more evident than on Friday. Joe's twin, Jim Rosa, was sixth (29:52), Tyler Stutzman 10th (29:56), Benjamin Johnson 12th (30:00), Erik Olson 13th (30:01), and Miles Unterreiner 16th (30:04). Not far behind, in 30th, was Michael Atchoo in 30:24, meaning Stanford's top seven were within 40 seconds of each other.
"Everything we do in practice is about running together," Miltenberg said. "We're learning more and more about how to race. We're absolutely getting better every week."
Defending NCAA champion Lawi Lalang ran away with the race in 29:02, far ahead of his Arizona teammate Stephen Sambu, the runner-up by 36 seconds.
In the women's race, Cal Poly's Laura Hollander bolted to a huge lead and strung out the pack, only for Kroeger and Hasay worked together to close the gap. Kroeger finished just short of Hollander for second, but impressed Miltenberg with her ability to persevere even while running by herself during the final stages.
Stanford placed three women in the top nine, with freshman Cayla Hatton in fifth (19:51) and Aisling Cuffe in ninth (19:53). Despite taking a hard fall at the 4K mark, Jessica Tonn placed 27th (20:19), Megan Lacy (41st, 20:46) was impressive in the No. 5 spot, and was followed by Justine Fedronic (64th, 21:12) and Rebecca Mehra (126th, 22:00).
"This was a huge step for our women," Miltenberg said. "They took a big step forward in terms of keeping their composure and running together."
The NCAA meet will take place at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park in its first foray into Kentucky. The women's 6K race begins at 9 a.m. PT and the men's 10K follows at 10:15 a.m.
As for the men's title chances, "The biggest thing is that we run the way we've always been running," Miltenberg said. "If we focus on what we're doing, anything is possible."