June 10, 2011
Stanford Men's Top-10 List
Stanford Women's Top-10 List
DES MOINES, Iowa - It was a banner day for the Cardinal track and field teams on the third day of competition of the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Both teams came through with some top performances to score big points in the team standings. The women currently sit in third with 25 points, while the men are tied for fifth with 24 points. Fourteen of 21 events have been competed in both competitions with the rest of the finals taking place on Saturday.
The Stanford men stormed up the team standings on Friday as the Amaechi Morton scored big points in the hurdles and the distance crew continued its strong meet as the 10,000 meters was finally contested after being delay by weather overnight.
The women had three athlete with top-5 finishes as it continued its surprising meet near the top of the team standings.
The Cardinal men were led by Morton who finished as the NCAA runner-up in the 400-meter hurdles. Morton ran a season-best time 49.08 to trail only Jeshua Anderson of Washington State who has now won three consecutive NCAA titles in the event. Morton ran a complete race and nearly was under his own school record, but it was just not enough against one of the top 400-meter hurdlers in the world.
The second-place finish was the best individual performance of Morton's career as he now has three first team All-America honors to his credit. Morton will be the top returning athlete in the intermediate hurdles next season as he looks for the elusive NCAA title.
The 10,000 meters finally began at 5:30 p.m. local time after being delayed overnight because of lightning. The event featured four Stanford runners with Chris Derrick and Jake Riley finishing fourth and fifth overall. Elliott Heath also ran well, placing 11th, while Miles Unterreiner was 22nd.
Derrick, Riley and Heath ran with the leaders, but the packs began to split around the 5,000-meter mark. Derrick ran at the front of the second pack with Riley just behind. Heath began to fall off the pace, but remained in striking distance. Derrick continued to push the pace of the second pack until Riley was the only athlete that could stay with him. The duo closed hard to finish comfortably in fourth and fifth, running times of 28:26.65 and 28:27.31, both personal bests and top-10 all-time at Stanford.
Heath finished in 29:20.06 and will have to wait until the 5,000 meters to try to back up his NCAA indoor title in the 3,000 meters. Unterreiner was running in his first NCAA Outdoor Championships and will receive honorable mention All-America honors for his 21st-place finish in 30:40.39.
The Cardinal scored nine points in the event and Derrick and Riley were to the top American born finishers as the top three, Leonard Korir of Iona, Samuel Chelanga of Liberty and Stephen Sambu of Arizona are all natives of Kenya. Derrick and Heath will be back at it tomorrow in the 5,000 meters and due to the weather delays will have less than 24 hours to recover.
The Cardinal were not done in the distances as they scored seven more points in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. JT Sullivan ran a career-best time of 8:37.74 to place fourth, while Benjamin Johnson ran 8:40.75 to take seventh. Sullivan closed well to pass several competitors over the final 800 meters to place fourth for the second-consecutive season. His time was the third fastest in Stanford history.
Johnson was with Sullivan, but did not have the same final 400 meters. Still, his time was just tenths off his personal best of the prelims and good enough to earn first team All-America honors. The race gave Stanford 16 points in the distances with the 5,000 meters still to come.
Stanford did not fare as well as it hoped in the prelims of the 4x400-meter relay, partially due to the weather. The Cardinal finished 21st with a time of 3:11.99, did not have the services of Morton, the fastest leg on the team. Because of the weather delay, the relay that was scheduled to be run on Thursday, was run Friday and Morton was pulled from the relay to not wear him out before the hurdles. The team of Alfredo Corall, Spencer Chase, Mark Mueller and Spencer Castro still performed admirably, but certainly missed its fastest quarter-miler.
The women continued to get some standout performances in the field events to sit near the top of the team standings. Katerina Stefanidi placed third in the pole vault with a mark of 14-5 ¼. Stefanidi cleared 14-5 ¼ on her first try, but then failed three times at 14-7 ¼ as she went for a personal best and the eventual winning mark. The junior adds the third-place finish to her runner-up finish indoors for a tremendous season.
In the triple jump, Whitney Liehr waited until her final attempt before unleashing the best jump of her career. Her leaps of 44-1 ¼ placed her fifth and earned four more points for the Cardinal. The mark ranks second in Stanford history, trailing only Cardinal legend Erica McLain who went on to the 2008 Olympic Games.
On the track, Kathy Kroeger came through with a huge personal best of 15:45.55 in the 5,000 to place fifth and earn four more team points. Kroeger moves to eighth all-time at Stanford after setting a 16-second personal best. The sophomore was with the leaders through 11.5 laps, but could not match the blistering final 400 meters of the top four and settled for fifth. Still, it was a sensation performance for Kroeger.
Stephanie Marcy also competed in the event, but finished out of the points in 16th. Having earned first team All-America honors in the 10,000 meters just 48 hours before, Marcy did not have the legs to match her teammate. Still, the time of 16:10.33 was a solid effort and will make second team All-America. She will be the lone female to earn All-America status in two events.
The conclusion of the NCAA Outdoor Champions will be Saturday as Stanford's last competitors will run the men's 5,000 meters. Derrick and Heath will need a big performance to have a chance to get Stanford on the podium.