SEATTLE – Stanford junior Joe Rosa did not win the 5,000 meters at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation indoor track and field championships, but he broke the existing meet record in a runner-up finish.
Rosa caught Arizona’s seven-time NCAA champion Lawi Lalang with two laps to go, only for the Kenyan to pull away on the final lap. However, Rosa shattered his personal record by 12 seconds, running 13:44.85, to move up to No. 8 on Stanford’s all-time indoor list.
Both Rosa and Lalang, who won in 13:41.58, broke the meet record of 13:45.54 set by Stanford Olympian Ian Dobson in 2005.
“I don’t think everything’s clicked like this since I was in high school,” said Rosa, a junior from West Windsor, N.J. “I knew I would do something big here.”
Rosa missed about three weeks of consistent of training beginning in late January because of a shin problem, but fought through an uncomfortable personal record of 13:56.76 in his return race Feb. 14 at the Husky Classic, on the same 307-meter Dempsey Indoor track, and became convinced of bigger things.
“Coach (Chris) Miltenberg and I talked about it,” Rosa said of the Husky Classic race. “I knew I wasn’t going to feel good. It was more about trying to be tough. That’s what this team prides itself on. If you push through the races when you don’t feel 100 percent, imagine what can happen when you do.”
That’s what happened Friday. Rosa was under no illusions about winning with Lalang, the reigning NCAA outdoor 5,000 champ among a myriad of other honors and titles, also in the race.
“My goal was to get second,” Rosa said.
At the first mile, Rosa was somewhere beyond 10th place. But at two miles, Rosa had pulled within 20 meters of leaders Lalang and Morgan Pearson of Colorado.
With two laps to go, Rosa passed Pearson and caught Lalang. That’s when “Lawi saw me and took off,” Rosa said.
Now, Rosa moves to No. 14 on the national season list and is in position to advance to the NCAA indoor championships March 14-15 in Albuquerque, N.M. Those in the top 16 at the end of competition on Saturday earn NCAA berths.
Despite his seemingly precarious position, Rosa is confident he can maintain his spot. There’s one runner in the Big Ten whom Rosa expects to move into the top 16. Otherwise, it will take an underdog running on his own, and very fast, to knock him out.
And, Rosa added, “they won’t have the perfect rabbit,” a task Lalang unknowingly filled wonderfully.
An addendum to Joe’s performance is the revelation that the Rosa twins have been on the national running scene this academic year. Jim was fifth in the NCAA cross country championships and the top American-born finisher in the race. And now a breakthrough from Joe.
“It’s not really that we’ve changed anything in our workouts,” Joe Rosa said. “It’s the overall discipline of our team as a whole. It’s leaps and bounds better than last year. Coach Miltenberg has really got us dedicated. We’re so disciplined and focused in everything we’re doing.”
Rosa’s performance was the biggest highlight for Stanford on the first day of the MPSF meet, though personal records were achieved by Thomas Graham in the men’s 5,000 (seventh, 14:06.79) and Megan Lacy in the women’s 5,000 (fifth, 16:35.21).
Ellie McCardwell achieved a season best in the women’s pole vault, finishing eighth at 12-11 ¾, and freshman Dylan Duvio was fifth in the men’s pole vault at 16-10 ¾.
The Cardinal men are fifth with 17 points and the women are 12th with 8 ½, but with big scoring opportunities Saturday.
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Winners and Stanford results in events involving Stanford athletes:
Team scores – 1, California 40; 2, Arizona State 31; 3, Arizona 28; 4, UCLA 23; 5, Stanford 17; 6, Washington State 14; 7 (tie), Colorado, Oregon, 11; 9, Washington 10; 10, BYU 5; 11, Cal State Northridge 2.
5,000 – 1, Lawi Lalang (Arizona) 13:41.58 (meet record); 2, Joe Rosa (Stanford) 13:44.85 (personal record, broke previous meet record, No. 8 Stanford all-time indoors). Stanford: 7, Thomas Graham 14:06.79 (personal record); 28, Kevin Bishop 15:01.34; 29, Jack Bordoni 15:01.82.
Distance medley relay – 1, Washington 9:31.82. 3, Stanford (Michael Atchoo, Jackson Shumway, Marco Bertolotti, Thomas Coyle) 9:44.54.
Long jump – 1, Hammed Suleman (California) 24-6 ½. Stanford: 8, Dartis Willis 22-9.
Pole vault – 1, Michael Woepse (UCLA) 17-10 ½. Stanford: 5, Dylan Duvio 16-10 ¾.
Team scores – 1, Arizona 31; 2, Arizona State 28; 3, Oregon 26 1/2 ; 4 (tie), Washington, UCLA, 26; 6 (tie), USC, California, 25; 8, BYU 24; 9, Colorado 17; 10, Utah 16; 11, Washington State 11; 12, Stanford 8 ½; 13, Cal State Fullerton 4; 14, Long Beach State 3; 15, Cal State Northridge 2.
5,000 – 1, Rebekah Winterton (Utah) 16:30.51. Stanford: 5, Megan Lacy 16:35.21 (personal record).
Distance medley relay – 1, Washington 11:13.99. 5, Stanford (Cami Chapus, Claudia Saunders, Rebecca Mehra, Tate Murray) 11:23.74.
Pole vault – 1, Kristina Owsinski (Washington) 13-5 ¾. Stanford: 8, Ellie McCardwell 12-11 ¾.
Weight throw – 1, Chioma Amaechi (California) 67-2 ½. Stanford: 16, Rebecca Hammar 51-0 ¾.