DES MOINES, Iowa – Stanford freshman Amy Weissenbach shattered school and collegiate freshman records while earning surprise passage to the women's 800-meter final at the U.S. Championships on Friday, and NCAA 400 hurdles champion Kori Carter made her professional debut a day after agreeing to a sponsorship deal with Nike.
It was all part of an eventful day for Stanford track and field at Drake Stadium. Earlier, Megan Glasmann, an incoming Stanford freshman, won the junior women’s javelin title and current freshman Claudia Saunders was second in the junior women’s 800.
Carter, a junior, decided to forego her final season of eligibility after setting a collegiate record and world-leading time of 53.21 to win the NCAA Championships on June 7. She signed with an agent, Wesley Felix, on Monday night and agreed to a deal on Thursday.
On Friday, she took to the track in Nike gear and advanced easily out of her first round heat, finishing second in 55.69 to advance to Saturday’s semifinal (2:03 p.m.).
“Since I was little, I’ve always looked forward to the opportunity to become a pro and run against the top runners,” Carter said. “Now, I have that chance to get out there and run against the best in the world.”
Carter will remain at Stanford and graduate next year with a degree in human biology, with Nike paying the remainder of her college tuition. She also will continue to train under Stanford sprints/hurdles coach Jody Stewart.
“The only difference is, I’ll be sitting in the stands at the Big Meet,” Carter said. “That was the hardest part, knowing I wouldn’t be able to score points for Stanford.”
Carter and her father Bruce felt the time was right to act while her earning power was at its highest. And after much research and advisement, they chose Felix, who now has two clients – Carter, and his sister, Allyson, the 2012 Olympic 200 champion.
Carter is a nine-time All-America and the Stanford record holder in every outdoor and indoor hurdle event – breaking school records 11 times. Her NCAA-winning time of 53.21 is No. 2 in collegiate history, but the fastest against collegiate-only competition. It also makes Carter the No. 6 performer in U.S. history in that event.
On Tuesday, she was announced as a semifinalist for The Bowerman, collegiate track and field’s highest annual honor. The finalists will be announced July 11, and the winner on Dec. 18 at an awards ceremony in Orlando, Fla. Already, she has been named as the women’s track athlete of the year for the Pac-12 and for the West Region.
“We are very excited for Kori to have this well-deserved opportunity,” said Chris Miltenberg, Stanford’s Franklin P. Johnson Director of Track and Field. “She has been an integral part of our program and will always be part of the Stanford track and field family.
“We're excited that she will still be at Stanford and continuing to work with Coach Stewart next year as she moves into the professional ranks. I know this is just the beginning of a great long career for Kori.”
On Friday, Carter said, as she sat in a tub of ice, that she doesn’t want to dwell about her future just yet. Rather, she’s focused on reaching Sunday’s U.S. final and earning a top three finish and a berth in the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia, Aug. 10-18.
Carter said she didn’t feel entirely comfortable in her preliminary heat. Of the 18 competitors in the first round, only two were eliminated, meaning that conserving energy was key. The first round also was notable in that Lashinda Demus, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist and defending U.S. champion, did not compete, leaving the U.S. title open to a newcomer - perhaps Carter.
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Weissenbach, who turned 19 on Sunday, ran 2:00.98 to break the national freshman record of 2:01.6 set by Madeline Manning of Tennessee State in 1967. Weissenbach also moves to No. 5 on the all-time American Junior list, with Ajee Wilson running the No. 4 time of 2:00.91 in the same heat.
Weissenbach achieved an IAAF World Championships 'B' standard and will run the final on Sunday at 12:02 p.m. PT.
Weissenbach entered the meet with the 16th-best mark in the 33-runner field and qualified 15th of 16 for the semifinals. But as the race developed, she remained resourceful even as her path to success was literally cut off.
Former Cal runner Alysia Montano bolted immediately into the lead, but Weissenbach held her position in the middle of the pack. She remained patient until she found an opening and went for it, only to be cut off by another runner. With no alternative, Weissenbach ventured to the outside of Lane Three and pushed toward the finish in a frenzied attempt for fourth place – “a desperate hope,” she said.
Dueling with Maggie Vessey on the inside, Weissenbach lunged for the final qualifying spot. There was a moment of uncertainty, and then a wide grin. She got it in a personal record time, breaking the 2:02.04 that set a National High School Federation record during her junior year at Harvard-Westlake School in North Hollywood, Calif.
“The time was definitely a shock,” Weissenbach said. “You don’t think about it when you’re racing other people. I did not expect it to be so fast.”
The time broke Justine Fedronic’s two-week old Stanford record of 2:01.67 set in finishing third at the NCAA Championships, with Weissenbach sixth in the same race.
“I’m getting tons of race experience,” Weissenbach said. “I know I can always be more patient, but that’s part of learning how to race as smoothly as possible, to be able to put myself in the right position.”
Now, Weissenbach joins Oregon’s Pac-12 champion Laura Roesler as the only collegiate runners to reach the final. One is a senior and, of course, the other is a freshman. The fastest ever.
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Glasmann, the Utah state record-holder from Park City, threw a personal record 166-7 on her first attempt – a distance that would be enough to win by nearly 10 feet. Her series included a 165-10 on her second throw and 166-5 on her sixth.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” Glasmann said during a public address interview on the awards stand. “My mom’s my coach, so it’s a family thing.”
Megan’s mother, the former Niki Nye, was a javelin All-America at University of Texas and continues to hold the school record there.
Her previous best was 159-1, achieved while winning the New Balance Nationals last week in Greensboro, N.C. She also added a Utah state title in the discus to her javelin victory.
At Stanford, Glasmann will join two-time Pac-12 champion and first-team All-America Brianna Bain among javelin throwers under associate head coach Michelle Eisenreich.
“I'm looking forward to a team that has a bunch of great throwers and an incredible coach,” Glasmann told the Park Record earlier this year.
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Saunders set a personal record of 2:06.46 – the fifth-fastest time ever among Stanford freshmen – in finishing just short in a duel with Baylor’s Olicia Williams. As they rounded the final turn, Saunders and Williams turned a four-runner race into two-runner sprint to the finish.
Williams held off Saunders’ charge to win in 2:06.35, but the race showed the continued improvement of Saunders, in her first season in the 800 after winning an Ohio state high school title in the 100 hurdles.
Saunders and Glasmann qualified to represent the U.S. at the Pan Am Junior Championships Aug. 23-25 in Medellin, Colombia. The top two U.S. junior finishers who have achieved the IAAF junior standard earn the right to compete in the 19-and-under competition for the best in the Western Hemisphere. Stanford recruit Dylan Duvio, who was second in the men’s pole vault Thursday, also earned passage.
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In the junior men’s 1,500, two Stanford runners and one Cardinal recruit advanced to Saturday’s final from the same heat. Justin Brinkley won the first heat in 3:49.90, with incoming freshman Sean McGorty in second (3:51.16) to earn automatic qualifying spots. Will Drinkwater was seventh in the race in 3:54.86, but advanced on time.
McGorty, who won the New Balance Nationals two-mile last week in 8:45.61, led the race until Drinkwater took the lead with 600 to go, only for Brinkley to swing around on the backstretch and extend his lead to the finish line.
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Stanford’s Friday results:
800 semifinals – 10 (4,H1), Amy Weissenbach 2:00.98 (Stanford record), qualified for final.
400 hurdles first round – 4 (2,H3), Kori Carter 55.69, qualified for final.
1,500 first round – 1 (1,H1), Justin Brinkley 3:49.90, qualified for final; 2 (2,H2), Sean McGorty* 3:51.16, qualified for final; 7 (7,H1), Will Drinkwater 3:54.86, qualified for final.
800 final – 2, Claudia Saunders 2:06.46.
Javelin final – 1, Megan Glasmann* 166-5.
* Incoming Stanford freshman