Atchoo became the fourth Stanford middle-distance runner to reach the finals, following a trio of 800 runners who advanced on Thursday. Atchoo placed third in his semifinal heat in 3:46.23 to advance to Saturday’s final (2:18 p.m.). The top five in each heat earned automatic qualification.
Stanford had four competitors on Thursday, the second day of the four-day meet. Rebecca Mehra (4:21.63) missed qualifying for the women’s 1,500 final by 0.16 of a second, freshman Valarie Allman was 21st in the discus (158-9) and Lucas Rowley was 22nd in the men’s hammer throw (192-8).
Mehra earns a second-team All-America selection and Allman and Rowley are honorable mention. This is the first All-America honor for each.
This is the first NCAA outdoor meet for Atchoo as well. He learned from his own failures at the NCAA West Prelims and made the best of those experiences.
“I always kind of hyped this meet up in my head,” Atchoo said. “This year, I figured whatever happens happens. Don’t hype it up so much. That made all the difference. That’s why I was able to run so well.”
Atchoo went along with the slow early pace, but made a move to the front with 700 meters left. It may not have been the wisest move in trying to hold a surge that long. However, “I wanted to make sure I didn’t get caught in the back when people started to move.”
Though he lost the lead, his 54.46 final lap was enough to secure passage to the final.
Mehra was 11th of 12 runners with a lap to go. She passed five runners on the final lap, but the sixth, escaped her, and Mehra was eliminated by a fraction of a second.
Allman entered the meet as the No. 6 seed as one of two freshmen in the discus field. Though she had been consistent in the high 170-180 range all season, she managed only 139-5 on her first throw and 158-9 on the second.
After a discussion with Stanford associate head coach Michelle Eisenreich, Allman knew she needed about a 16-foot improvement to get into the final. She may have gotten the distance on her third throw, but it sailed wide of the sector and Allman was eliminated.
Rowley, a junior, entered the meet having earned a personal best of 202-11 in the NCAA West Prelims. He didn’t approach that mark on Wednesday, but competing at nationals was a great reward for someone who took up the hammer only last season. No doubt Rowley has even better days to come.
Stanford will have four athletes competing on Friday: Luke Lefebure in the men’s 800 final (5:15 p.m.), Claudia Saunders and Amy Weissenbach in the women’s 800 final (5:25 p.m.), and Joe Rosa in the men’s 5,000 final (6:10 p.m.).
Saturday’s action will be televised on ESPNU at 4:30 p.m.
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1,500 (semifinals) – 12, Michael Atchoo 3:46.23. Atchoo advances to Saturday’s final.
Hammer (final) – 22, Lucas Rowley 192-8 (58.74m).
1,500 semifinals) – 14, Rebecca Mehra 4:21.63.
Discus (final) – 21, Valarie Allman 158-9 (48.40m).