Nov. 15, 2012
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Stanford men’s and women’s cross country teams compete in the NCAA Championships on Saturday with goals of podium finishes, and perhaps even a national championship.
The Cardinal men, though tied for a No. 2 ranking in the USTFCCCA Coaches’ Poll, are considered underdogs to No. 1 Oklahoma State, and Pac-12 and Pre-Nationals winner Colorado, which slipped to third in the Mountain Regional and dropped to No. 7 in the rankings. But Stanford’s veteran depth, combined with a breakthrough individual performance could vault the Cardinal into the status of true contender.
The Cardinal women are ranked No. 4 and seeking their first NCAA title since 2007, the year they won the last of three consecutive championships. Stanford is a young team paced by Pac-12 individual champion and NCAA contender Kathy Kroeger.
What: NCAA Cross Country Championships
When: Saturday (Women, 9 a.m. PT; Men, 10:15 a.m. PT)
Where: E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park, Louisville, Ky.
Distance: Women, 6,000 meters; Men, 10,000.
Who: Stanford is among 31 teams in each of the men’s and women’s divisions, along with to 28 individuals not on teams.
Watch: NCAA.com for a live webcast
Stanford Men: The Cardinal won the NCAA West Regional title in Seattle last week, scoring 45 points to 109 for runner-up Portland. Stanford’s top six – paced by Joe Rosa in fourth place – all finished in the top 13 and all within 20 seconds of each other. Its top seven were within a 40-second span. That kind of team running will be crucial for the Cardinal’s chances.
Stanford has won three of the four meets in which it has sent its full team, including the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, in which the Cardinal outran 12 teams ranked in the top 20 to boost its stock on a national level. But to have a chance to beat the likes of No. 1 Oklahoma State, the Cardinal may need something more – a top-level finisher. If a Cardinal runner, perhaps twins Joe or Jim Rosa who have run mostly 1-2 in that order this season, could emerge with a top-15 finish, Stanford could be in the mix for its first title since 2003 if the rest of the team can remain 30-40 seconds behind.
“The biggest thing is that we run the way we've always been running,” said Chris Miltenberg, Stanford’s Franklin P. Johnson Director of Track and Field, after winning regionals. “If we focus on what we're doing, anything is possible.”
The “Butler Projections,” based on a computer-generated predictions, have Stanford finishing sixth and Joe Rosa leading the Cardinal in 35th.
Stanford Women: Miltenberg coached Georgetown to a surprising NCAA title last season and hopes to bank on the same kind of miracle again. Stanford is ranked No. 4, behind Florida State, Oregon, and Iowa State. The Cardinal finished behind Oregon at the Pac-12 and West Regional meets, and was second to Iowa State in Wisconsin.
But the Cardinal have been improving and could take a huge step forward if it gets a boost at the back end of its top-five. Pac-12 champion Kathy Kroeger would be considered a darkhorse for the individual title, but has been running strong against fellow contenders Jordan Hasay of Oregon and Laura Hollander of Cal Poly the past two weeks.
The “Butler Projections,” based on computer-generated predictions, have Stanford finishing fifth and Kroeger leading the Cardinal in fifth.
NCAA History: Stanford has won five women’s team titles and four men’s team crowns. The Cardinal swept both championships in 2003, the last time the men won. That year also began a run by the Stanford women of four titles in five years, through 2007.
Last year in Terre Haute, Ind., the men, paced by runner-up Chris Derrick, were fifth and the women 10th.
This is the 19th consecutive season that both the Stanford men’s and women’s teams have competed at the NCAA Championships.
Team Breakdown: Based on season performances in its four major meets (Stanford and Wisconsin invitationals, Pac-12, West Regional), the following is the average team finish for each runner in the team’s top seven this season. Their season-best team finish, along with their average team finish, are in parentheses. (If there is a tie, precedence is given first to the runner with the most races, and then to the runner to have appeared in the most recent meet).
1. Joe Rosa (1, 1.25), So., West Windsor, N.J.
2. Jim Rosa (1, 3.25), RS Fr., West Windsor, N.J.
3. Benjamin Johnson (2, 3.50), Sr., Albuquerque, N.M.
4. Miles Unterreiner (2, 3.75), Sr., Gig Harbor, Wash.
5. Tyler Stutzman (3, 4.00), RS Jr., Charlottesville, Va.
6. Erik Olson (5, 6.00), Jr., Novato, Calif.
7. Michael Atchoo (5, 6.00), RS So., Belmont, Calif.
8. Thomas Graham (6, 6.00), Fr., Cary, N.C.
9. Billy Orman (7, 7.00), RS Fr., Tuba City, Ariz.
1. Kathy Kroeger (1, 1.00), Sr., Franklin, Tenn.
2. Cayla Hatton (2, 2.50), Fr., Andover, Mass.
3. Aisling Cuffe (2, 3.00), So., Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y.
4. Jessica Tonn (3, 3.50), Jr., Paradise Valley, Ariz.
5. Megan Lacy (5, 5.30), Fr., Marlton, N.J.
6. Rebecca Mehra (5, 5.75), Fr., Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.
7. Justine Fedronic (6, 6.00), RS Jr., Belmont, Calif.
8. Cami Chapus (6, 6.00), Fr., Pacific Palisades, Calif.
9. Julia Foster (7, 7.00), RS Fr., Albuquerque, N.M.