Austin, Texas - Stanford opened the new format of national qualifying Thursday with several athletes moving through the rounds of the NCAA Preliminary meet. In addition, Stephanie Marcy, Jake Riley and Katerina Stefanidi punched their tickets to the final rounds in Eugene, Ore., from June 9-12.
Stefanidi became the first Stanford athlete of the day to earn a trip to Eugene for the NCAA Outdoor Championships. She was one of nine athletes to clear 13-9 ¼, but placed ninth based on some early misses. The competition stopped at that height because the 12 qualifiers had already been decided. Stefanidi overcame a bit of a scare after opening her vaulting at 12-9 ½ and missing twice. She then cleared on her third attempt that if missed would have eliminated her from the competition.
The other Cardinal female to advance was Marcy in the 10,000 meters. Marcy placed 10th in a time of 34:36.42 to earn her ticket to the NCAA final. Georgia Griffin also competed in the event, placing 28th in 35:53.05. Kate Niehaus competed, but did not finish.
The Cardinal were well-represented in the 100 meters with three athletes competing and advancing to Friday's quarterfinal round. Griffin Matthew placed second in her heat in a time of 11.66 to advance as the 10th qualifier. In addition, freshman Carissa Levingston placed third in her heat to advance automatically with a time of 11.62. Finally, Shataya Hendricks also placed third in her heat to advance with a time 11.81
In the 1,500 meters, Madeline Duhon did her part to advance, finishing fifth in her heat with a time of 4:24.67. Duhon hung with the lead pack, put herself into qualifying position over the last 200 meters, and did not let it go. She will be the 19th qualifier looking to move into the top-12 on Saturday in the quarterfinal round. Victoria Pennings also competed in the event, but finished just out of qualifying position with a time of 4:28.30.
The Cardinal men were led by Riley in the 10,000 meters who advanced to the NCAA Championships after placing third in the 10,000 meters. The event was made up of 48 runners competing for 12 spots in Eugene. Riley cruised near the lead and finished strong to easily advance in 29:38.64. Brendan Gregg also competed in the event and was not as fortunate, just missing advancing in 19th place. Gregg ran a time of 30:08.54.
Stanford excelled in the 400-meter hurdles as both Amaechi Morton and Durell Coleman advanced to Friday's quarterfinal round. Morton won his heat in 50.20, the second-fastest time of the day and will be a heavy favorite to advance to the final rounds. Coleman also impressed, running a career-best time of 51.12 to finish second in his heat, trailing only two-time defending NCAA champion Jeshua Anderson of Washington State. Coleman ran the 10th-fastest time overall and will have a good opportunity to advance to his first NCAA Outdoor Championships.
In the first round of the 1,500 meters, Dylan Ferris cruised to a fifth-place finish in his heat to advance. Ferris ran 3:50.70, which was 10 seconds off his personal best. The sophomore ran a smart, controlled race to save his legs for Saturday's quarterfinal round that will decide who travels to Eugene. Ferris ended up running the slowest qualifying time of the day, something that should serve him and his legs well going forward. Freshman Tyler Valdes also got some big meet experience, but did not advance after running a time of 3:56.54.
Running the heats of the 100 meters was Daniel Belch. The Cardinal senior ran a time of 10.90 to place eighth in his heat and did not advance. Belch will now ready for the 4x100-meter relay on Saturday where they Cardinal should be in the thick of the competition to earn a trip to Eugene.
Competing in the 800 meters, but failing to advance was Justin Reed. Reed ran a time of 1:50.20 to finish fifth in his heat.
Stanford will be back on the track Friday for day two of the NCAA Preliminary Rounds. The women will be in full force with multiple competitors in the 100 meters and the long jump, while the men will be led by one of its top hopes, JT Sullivan in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.