SEATTLE – Steven Solomon earned his first title for Stanford, winning the men’s 400 meters at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation indoor track and field championships Saturday. However, the feeling is that it will be the first of many.
Solomon was one of three Stanford champions Saturday at University of Washington’s Dempsey Indoor track. Sophomores Amy Weissenbach (2:04.99) and Claudia Saunders (2:05.19) finished 1-2 in the women’s 800, and junior Aisling Cuffe (9:04.57) and fifth-year senior Kathy Kroeger (9:07.23) went 1-2 in the women’s 3,000.
Also, sophomore Kristyn Williams (53.36) set a school record in the women’s 400, breaking her own mark from earlier this season by 0.03, while finishing fourth.
In all, 25 Stanford athletes competed Saturday on the meet’s second and final day. They combined for 10 additions to Stanford’s all-time indoor top-10 lists, nine personal records, three conference championships, and one school record. They helped the Stanford’s women place fifth among 17 teams with 63 ½ points and the Cardinal men place sixth of 12 with 59.
Saturday also marked the last chance to make the national top 16 in each event and earn passage to the NCAA Championships on March 14-15 in Albuquerque, N.M. The list of NCAA qualifiers will be released Sunday.
The plan all season has been for Solomon to focus on the distance medley relay at the NCAA’s even if he qualified as an individual in the 400 in the 13th spot. Not only is the outdoor season a priority, but so is the Australian national championships April 3-6.
“We’re looking at the whole big picture,” said Jody Stewart, Stanford’s associate head coach in charge of sprints and hurdles. “Our goal this year was to train through indoors but to compete well in the 400 and have a strong DMR at nationals.”
Stanford’s distance medley relay is ranked No. 4 in the nation and a contender for an NCAA title. A fresh Solomon certainly will help the Cardinal in its attempt to win its fourth NCAA indoor title in the event.
Solomon’s tall frame does not make him best suited for the indoor 400, especially with the tight, but flat turns on Dempsey Indoor’s 307-meter Mondo track. But you wouldn’t know it. Solomon’s margin of victory was nearly a second, and he followed with a 45.6 relay split in helping the Cardinal to the No. 3 time in school indoor history. The quartet of Jackson Shumway, Solomon, Scott Buttinger, and Luke Lefebure was fourth in 3:12.20 for Stanford’s fastest time indoors since 2005.
An Australian who made the 400 final at the 2012 London Olympics, Solomon ran a personal indoor record and improved upon his No. 2 school indoor mark. Solomon is Stanford’s second MPSF 400 champion, following Amaechi Morton who won in 2011 and 2012.
"We used the MPSF as a great last tune up for everyone that we already have qualified for the NCAA Championships and added four more qualifiers in Joe Rosa, Erik Olson, Aisling Cuffe and Kathy Kroeger,” said Chris Miltenberg, Stanford’s Franklin P. Johnson Director of Track and Field. “I'm really fired up about the group we have heading to the NCAA meet and the great momentum coming out of this weekend."
Weissenbach created much of that momentum with a personal indoor best and leapfrogged Saunders for No. 2 on Stanford’s all-time indoor list. She became the first from Stanford, among men and women, to win an MPSF 800 title, with the Cardinal first competing in the conference indoor championships in 2002.
Cuffe improved upon her previous best of 9:09.79, which broke the American junior indoor record in 2012, and moved to No. 4 all-time indoors. Kroeger also earned a personal record and moving to No. 6 on Stanford’s all-time list. They are the past two Pac-12 Conference cross country champions, with Cuffe earning the title last fall. Cuffe is Stanford’s first MPSF 3,000 champ since Laurynne Chetelat in 2009.
Among other notable Stanford performances, Darian Brooks moved into a tie with NFL star Richard Sherman for third on the school indoor triple jump list. Brooks, a junior, uncorked his first career 50-footer, reaching 50-4 ¾ to finish third.
“Darian did a great job of competing after a tough few weeks,” said Michael Eskind, Stanford’s jumps, pole vault, and multis coach. “He’s been battling a minor foot issue so he’s missed a few weeks of training. His performance today is a testament to his toughness and to our medical staff’s terrific efforts to help him be ready to compete today. I’m incredibly excited for his outdoor season.”
In the men’s 3,000, Erik Olson knocked seven seconds off his personal record to finish third in 7:50.81, making him Stanford’s fourth-fastest Stanford indoor performer ever. Michael Atchoo also PR’d, running 7:54.98 for seventh place and No. 10 on the list.
The women’s 4x400 of Kristyn Williams, Weissenbach, Saunders, and Justine Fedronic was fourth in 3:37.58, for No. 4 all-time and the fastest since a 2012 team anchored by Fedronic. Even in Williams’ school record 400 performance, she lost time while getting jostled after the runners broke in from their lanes at 150 meters.
Stewart, however, was proud of the way Williams made adjustments from that race and bounced back in the relay, running a 53.02 opening leg.
Though Fedronic did not run her specialty of the 800 – she was a 2013 first-team outdoor All-America in the event, as was Weissenbach – she was third in the mile in a personal record of 4:39.81, good for sixth on the all-time list and Stanford’s fastest since 2009.
"We had some great performances across the board today in everything from the triple jump to the 3K,” Miltenberg said. “Most of all, I'm proud of the way that we're fighting and competing in every situation even when things are not necessarily playing out perfectly. Darian Brooks and Joe Rosa are great examples of that. Both have had a bumpy last few weeks with injury but neither lost confidence or composure and didn't hesitate to put themselves right in the hunt to win.
“That toughness is what our team is built around and we’ve made incredible progress in that this season."
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Winners and Stanford results in events involving Stanford athletes:
Team scores – 1, California 96; 2, Arizona State 93; 3, Oregon 88 ½; 4, UCLA 75 ½; 5, Arizona 66; 6, Stanford 59; 7, Washington 50; 8, Washington State 49 ½; 9, BYU 37; 10, Colorado 32; 11, Long Beach State 8 ½; 12, Cal State Northridge 4.
400 – 1, Steven Solomon (Stanford) 46.24 (Stanford No. 2 all-time indoors).
800 – 1, Jesse Jorgensen (Washington State) 1:48.84. Stanford: 3, Luke Lefebure 1:49.08; 7, Scott Buttinger 1:50.54.
Mile – 1, Jordan Locklear (California) 4:04.03. Stanford: 7, Marco Bertolotti 4:06.11; 17, Thomas Coyle 4:10.45; 23, Will Drinkwater 4:14.89.
3,000 – 1, Edward Cheserek (Oregon) 7:47.20. Stanford: 3, Erik Olson 7:50.81 (personal record; Stanford No. 4 all-time indoors); 7, Michael Atchoo 7:54.98 (personal record; Stanford No. 10 all-time indoors); 28, Patrick Gibson 8:19.38 (personal record).
4x400 relay – 1, Oregon 3:06.99. 4, Stanford (Jackson Shumway, Steven Solomon, Scott Buttinger, Luke Lefebure) 3:12.20 (Stanford No. 4 all-time indoors).
Triple jump – 1, Kasen Covington (Washington) 51-6 ½. Stanford: 4, Darian Brooks 50-4 ¾ (personal record; tied Stanford No. 3 all-time indoors).
Team scores – 1, USC 106; 2, Arizona State 81; 3, Arizona 75; 4, Oregon 66 ½; 5, Stanford 63 ½; 6, UCLA 43; 7 (tie), California, BYU, 38; 9, Colorado 29; 10, Washington State 28 ½; 11, Washington 28; 12, Utah 26; 13, Cal State Northridge 14 ½; 14, UC Irvine 8; 15, Cal State Fullerton 7; 16, Hawai’i 5; 17, Long Beach State 3.
400 – 1, CoCo Ndipagbor (USC) 52.63. Stanford: 4, Kristyn Williams 53.36 (school indoor record); 30, Kaitlyn Williams 56.87.
800 – 1, Amy Weissenbach (Stanford) 2:04.99 (Stanford No. 2 all-time indoors); 2, Claudia Saunders (Stanford) 2:05.19. Stanford: 16, Jaye Buchbinder 2:15.98.
Mile – 1, Shelby Houlihan (Arizona State) 4:38.45. Stanford: 3, Justine Fedronic 4:39.81 (personal record; Stanford No. 6 all-time indoors); 7, Rebecca Mehra 4:44.04 (personal record); 13, Tate Murray 4:54.32; 15, Molly McNamara 4:54.76; 20, Cami Chapus 4:56.68.
3,000 – 1, Aisling Cuffe (Stanford) 9:04.57 (personal record; Stanford No. 4 all-time indoors); 2, Kathy Kroeger (Stanford) 9:07.23 (personal record; Stanford No. 6 all-time indoors). Stanford: 12, Emma Fisher 9:37.31 (personal record).
4x400 – 1, Arizona State 3:35.78. 4, Stanford (Kristyn Williams, Amy Weissenbach, Claudia Saunders, Justine Fedronic) 3:37.58 (Stanford No. 4 all-time indoors).
Shot put – 1, Alyssa Hasslen (Arizona) 56-4. Stanford: 8, Alyssa Wisdom 48-1 ¾.