• Four world-leading times.
• The world’s eight fastest times in the men’s 5,000.
• Six U.S.-leading times.
• Five collegiate leading times.
• Two meet records.
Here is an breakdown of how many of this year’s top 20 times in the world were run at Payton Jordan: women’s 5,000 (16), men’s 5,000 (14), men’s 10,000 (13), women’s 10,000 (13), men’s 3,000 steeplechase (12), women’s 3,000 steeplechase (12), men’s 1,500 (7), women’s 800 (5), women’s 1,500 (5), men’s 800 (1).
The world-leading times were run by Ben True in men’s 5,000 (13:02.74), Billy Nelson in the men’s 3,000 steeplechase (8:28.49), Sifan Hassan in the women’s 5,000 (14:59.23), and Sally Kipyego in the women’s 10,000 (30:42.26).
Some interesting facts about the depth of the fields:
• The three fastest times in the world run outside of Kenya were achieved in the men’s 1,500.
• The men’s 5,000 featured three reigning U.S. champions – Matt Centrowitz (1,500), Chris Derrick (cross country), and Evan Jager (steeplechase) – and none of the won. Derrick was fourth, Jager fifth, and Centrowitz ninth.
• The world’s top four times were run in the men’s steeplechase.
• Fifteen of the 17 fastest times in the world were run in the women’s 5,000.
• Eight of the nine world’s fastest times came from the women’s 10,000, including the top three.
As for the Payton Jordan’s impact on the U.S. lists, six U.S.-leading outdoor times were achieved on Sunday: Riley Masters in the men’s 1,500 (3:38.42), Bobby Curtis in the men’s 10,000 (27:46.30), Katie Mackey in the women’s 5,000 (15:04.74), Molly Huddle in the women’s 10,000 (30:47.59), Nelson in the men’s steeple, and True in the men’s 5,000.
On the collegiate lists, leading marks were delivered by Penn State’s Brandon Kidder in the men’s 1,500 (3:38.82), Oklahoma State’s Shadrack Kipchirchir in the men’s 10,000 (27:36.79), Texas-El Paso’s Anthony Rotich in the men’s steeplechase (8:30.54), Stanford’s Aisling Cuffe in the women’s 5,000 (15:11.13), and Colorado’s Shalaya Kipp in the women’s steeplechase (9:39.12).
Some facts about the NCAA Division I collegiate lists:
• The top 22 times in the men’s 10,000 have been run at Stanford, either in the Payton Jordan or the Stanford Invitational on April 4.
• Eight of the top 10 in the women’s 5,000 have been run at Stanford.
• Stanford runners moved up to No. 2 (Amy Weissenbach, 2:02.60) and No. 7 (Claudia Saunders, a personal best 2:03.44) in the women’s 800.
• Ten of the top 16 collegiate times in the women’s 1,500 were run at Payton Jordan, even though the fastest collegian was eighth (Florida’s Cory McGee, 4:12.50), and the collegiate No. 1 (Arkansas’s Stephanie Brown) was 12th.
Finally, meet records were set by True in the men’s 5,000 and, surprisingly, by Middle Tennessee State sophomore Eliud Rutto in the men’s 800. Rutto, a Kenyan who was seventh in the NCAA outdoor 800 last year, emerged from the supposedly slower second section to run 1:45.37.
Stanford junior Aisling Cuffe set a school record of 15:11.13 in the women’s 5,000. It was the third-fastest ever by a collegian and the second-fastest by an American collegian.
Cuffe has received three big honors in the past few days since that race. The biggest was the news Thursday that Cuffe has been added to the watch list for The Bowerman, recognizing collegiate track and field’s outstanding athlete. She is among 10 women on the list.
On Tuesday, Cuffe was named Pac-12 Women’s Track Athlete of the Week. This followed her USTFCCCA National Women’s Athlete of the Week honor that she received Monday.
As for her race Sunday, how is it possible that Cuffe ran in such rarified air, and yet placed only sixth? For starters, every runner ahead of her set personal records in the race: four foreigners and Americans Katie Mackey, formerly of University of Washington, and Laura Thweatt, formerly of Colorado.
The two leaders have similar backgrounds. Winner Sifan Hassan, the 2013 European Under-23 champ, came to the Netherlands as refugee from Ethiopia at age 15 and has been studying to be a nurse since she arrived in Europe.
Runner-up Meraf Bahta came to Sweden from Eritrea. Now a Swedish citizen, Bahta won the Mt. SAC Invitational 5,000 in April. For both, it was their first venture under 15 minutes.
By the way, the next collegiate runner behind Cuffe was 13th place Erin Finn, who broke her own Michigan school record by 15 seconds. Finn ran 15:26.08.
Justine Fedronic, the 2013 Stanford first-team outdoor All-America who completed her eligibility during this year’s indoor season, competed in her first post-collegiate 800 race at the Payton Jordan. She placed third in 2:02.38, just behind defending U.S. 1,500 champion Treniere Moser and just ahead of Shannon Rowbury, a two-time Olympic 1,500 finalist.
While Fedronic is completing requirements for her degree in earth systems, she has a busy schedule set up for the immediate future. On Monday, she leaves for France where she will run for EFCVO at the club national championships.
She then will compete at the World Relay Championships on May 24-25 in Nassau, Bahamas. She will be running in the 4x800. Another former Stanford All-America – Garrett Heath – will run on the U.S. 4x1,500 team at the same meet.
After that, Fedronic will run at the Prefontaine Classic on May 24 in Eugene, Ore. The Pre Classic is one of two IAAF Diamond League meets contested in the U.S.
Stanford-bound Elise Cranny had a spectacular race at the Payton Jordan. Cranny, a senior at Niwott (Colo.) High School was sixth in the fast section of the women’s 1,500, running 4:10.95.
The time allowed Cranny to pass Jordan Hasay for second on the all-time high school list, trailing only Mary Cain.
Her time would be No. 1 on this year’s U.S. collegiate list. Even more impressive is that the top two on the list – Arkansas’ Stephanie Brown and Florida’s Cory McGee – were beaten by Cranny in the same Payton Jordan race.
Cranny, the 2014 U.S. junior national cross country champion, has signed a letter of intent to attend Stanford next fall.
Stanford freshman Sean McGorty ran 13:37.64 to finish sixth in the second section of the men’s 5,000, his first race at that distance on the track. McGorty, who is redshirting, will have a shot next year at the Stanford freshman record held by Chris Derrick, of 13:29.98.
McGorty said the ultimate goal this year, set by Chris Miltenberg, Stanford’s Franklin P. Johnson Director of Track and Field, was to break 13:40. Next is to secure a top-two spot at the U.S. junior nationals (July 5-6 in Eugene) in either the 1,500 or 5,000 and qualify for the IAAF World Championships in Eugene this summer.
“It’s tough to redshirt and see my teammates go to these meets (representing Stanford),” McGorty said. “But Coach has really emphasized working on the process long term. It’s really helped me mature and I’ve really bought into what he’s doing.”
Amy Weissenbach jumped to No. 2 on the national collegiate 800 list, with a 2:02.60 – a time that bettered her 2:02.67 that placed her sixth in the NCAA outdoors last year. Weissenbach placed fifth in the race and was the only collegian in the fastest section. Though happy with her fitness right now, she found she has plenty to work on in her first non-dual meet 800 this season.
“It was great to start the year off with an 800 on our home track, to have a bunch of people rooting for us, and to be out there with Justine too in her first pro race,” Weissenbach said. “But it was a frustrating race for me and Justine both.
“I was sitting in the back and got tripped up and gapped, and lost a lot of my momentum. But I was able to roll a little bit at the end and opened the season faster than I’ve ever opened up before. That’s a huge step up.”
The difference between running indoors and outdoors is big, she said. During the indoor season, she was running off strength work and just powered through the races.
“Now, we’re starting to sharpen up,” she said. “You have to make decisions about your pace, and you can feel the pace and tempo differences.”
Finally, Weissenbach on teammate Claudia Saunders’ big personal best, to 2:03.44: “That was sick.”
Joe Rosa, who ran a PR 13:33.56 to move to No. 8 on the Stanford all-time list, made a big move with four laps to go that put him into the lead of the second section of the men’s 5,000. He maintained his place until the final stretch.
“That’s typically a bigger move than someone would make in a race like this, especially with such a loaded field,” Rosa said. “I was moving from the back and had a lot of momentum. I didn’t want to tuck and settle in and have to regain my momentum, so I just went around and decided to go for it.”
Rosa and twin, Stanford’s Jim Rosa, the NCAA cross country fifth-place finisher, use their success to fuel a sibling rivalry. Joe, who was injured during cross country, said that was a turning point for his own success, which included a fifth-place in the 5,000 at the NCAA indoors.
“It all started with Jim in cross country,” Joe Rosa said. “I was on the sideline at that point. I decided that if Jim’s doing it now, when I get back, I’m going to be doing it too.
“He always talks trash to me and I always talk trash to him. He always says that a national finish of fifth in cross country is more impressive than indoors. We’ll finally get to see who’s better this outdoor season. I’m sure we’ll have some battles at Pac-12s and nationals.”
And about that sibling rivalry …
“We were always beating each other up. Whenever we played basketball, whoever would lose would throw the ball down the street. But, in the end, we always end up rooting for each other.”
Bonus interviews, with Stanford All-Americans Erik Olson and Michael Atchoo:
* * *
Chris Derrick, the two-time defending U.S. cross country champion, raced at Stanford for the first time since his 14-time All-America career ended in 2012. Derrick was in the hunt during the apocalyptic men’s 5,000, but ultimately finished fourth in 13:08.18, just off his personal record 13:08.04.
Derrick, who two days earlier came down from five weeks of altitude training in Flagstaff, Ariz., sought to secure a strong time that would get him into the elite IAAF Diamond League races. Instead, he left disappointed.
“Our training’s been going really well,” said Derrick, who is part of the Jerry Schumacher-coached Nike training group based in Portland, Ore. “We’re doing some pretty aggressive stuff. We’ve been doing a good cycle of mixing speed and longer distance work, and very specific stuff.
“We’ve been training hard. We’ve been in a pretty good spot. We’re all pretty fit, so I think the year will be a good one. But it wasn’t what we were looking for today.”
Derrick moved to the front with 2 ½ laps to go, a move he called “possibly stupid, definitely reckless.
“I really wanted to get it going. I wanted to light a fire under myself because I felt like I was kind of lost. I was fifth in the group and I was going to be left behind. So I wanted to get to the front and get the hard yards if I could. I definitely forced it a little too much and when you force it, you don’t relax, and you tie up in knots, which I did.”
Still, there was plenty to remember about this year’s Payton Jordan Invitational, and based on the excitement of this year’s performances, there is plenty to look forward to for current and former Cardinal alike.