Nov. 17, 2012
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Stanford women's cross-country team placed third in the NCAA Championships on Saturday to earn their highest national finish since winning the title in 2007.
Paced by sophomore Aisling Cuffe, Stanford's top four finished within 15 seconds of each other, from places 21st through 43, at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park.
The Cardinal men finished 16th. It was a difficult performance for a team that entered the meet with a No. 2 national ranking. Benjamin Johnson led Stanford with a 48th place finish.
In the 6,000-meter (3.7-mile) women's race, Iowa State's Betsy Saina outsprinted Oregon's Jordan Hasay down the stretch to win in 19:27.9. Though Hasay dropped to third, she led the Ducks to the team title, with 114 points, followed by Providence (183) and Stanford (198).
Stanford's Pac-12 champion Kathy Kroeger ran in the top 10 for much of the race, but was unable to hold the pace and dropped to 24th in 20:05.0, close behind Cuffe, who was 21st in 20:03.8. Hatton, a freshman, was right behind in 28th, in 20:06.2, and Jessica Tonn was 43rd in 20:18.8.
Stanford, ranked No. 4 going into the meet, was the only team to place its top four among the top 43.
Justine Fedronic, Stanford's 800-meter record-holder, emerged in the top seven late in the season and was a personal-best fifth on the team, finishing 150th in 21:05.5. Julia Foster was 161st (21:11.9) and Megan Lacywas 189th (21:27.5).
This was the first time Cuffe finished as Stanford's No. 1 runner since winning the season-opening USF Invitational in Golden Gate Park on Sept. 1 - a meet that Kroeger did not run.
In the 10,000-meter (6.2-mile) men's race, Arizona's Lawi Lalang, who outpointed Stanford's Chris Derrick to win last year's title in Terre Haute, Ind., lost for the first time in his collegiate career. The sophomore finished third, behind Texas Tech junior Kennedy Kithuka (28:31.3) and Arizona teammate Stephen Sambu (28:38.6).
Top-ranked Oklahoma State placed four runners among the top 24, and its entire top five among the top 53, to win with 72 points. Wisconsin was second with 135 and Pac-12 champion Colorado was third with 158.
Stanford, which scored 408 points, was led by two runners who had their high team finishes of the season. Johnson, a senior from Albuquerque, N.M., was Stanford's No. 1 for the first time this year. He ran 30:15.9.
Erik Olson, who hadn't finished higher than fifth on the team in any race this season, was Stanford's No. 2, finishing 87th in 30:37.3. Joe Rosa, normally Stanford's No. 1, was 112th (30:51.2). Next for the Cardinal were Tyler Stutzman (137th, 31:02.5), Miles Unterreiner (140th, 31:03.2), and Jim Rosa (166th, 31:16.7). Stanford's No. 7 runner did not finish.
Unterreiner, a track and field All-American competing in his final collegiate competition, boarded a plan immediately after the meet in an attempt to reach Seattle in time for his final interviews for a Rhodes Scholarship. Unterreiner, a Rhodes finalist, had his first round of interviews on Friday in Seattle before arriving in Louisville on Friday night.
The ability to participate in both the cross-country championships and Rhodes interviews was made possible by a private donor, who allowed use of a private aircraft so that Unterreiner could have the opportunity to take part in both.