Jan. 13, 2012
Women's Track and Field Outlook
The Stanford women are coming off another nationally competitive season where it finished 15th at the NCAA Indoor Championships and eighth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. This year should be no different as once again the Franklin P. Johnson Director of Track and Field Edrick Floreal has built a strong, balanced team capable of competing in every event group at the national level.
The Cardinal women have great depth to fare well at the conference meets and will need its top performers to step up at the national meets to contend for a podium position. The team includes two potential Olympians in Katerina Stefanidi (Greece) and Arantxa King (Bermuda), several budding young stars and a large group pushing each other to take the next step.
"The women might not have the number of big studs as the men, but it is a deeper group," said Floreal. "They are a pack of wolves ready to fight."
The Cardinal has one of its deepest and healthiest groups in recent memory. Carissa Levingston and Shataya Hendricks are both back and rank in the top-10 all-time at Stanford in the 100 meters, having each run in the 11.5 range. Levingston also ranks in the top-10 in the 200 meters with a blazing 23.43 back in 2010. Angela Gradiska is healthy after a lost freshman season and will give the Cardinal a deep group of short sprinters. In the 400, Hannah Farley and Kellie Schueler both return after each broke 55 seconds last season. Joy O'Hare will also run the 4x400 meters, although she has moved up to 800 meters for her open event. In the hurdles, the sophomore duo of Kori Carter and Katie Nelms will carry the Cardinal. Carter set the school record in both the 100- and 400-meter hurdles as a freshman and should score points at the national meet in multiple events this season. Both Carter and Nelms can also run the short sprints, the open 400 and help on relays.
"This is probably our best group ever," said Floreal. "We have everyone healthy and it is a deep group that is really gelling together and able to train at the highest level. I just think in the sprints and hurdles this is the most confident I have felt in a group with them being so well-rounded and balanced, but also eager to step up and do some great things."
The Cardinal has a young group that is blossoming into what should be a national power. Kathy Kroeger is a two-time All-American at 5,000 meters and should be NCAA scorer both indoors and outdoors as she is healthy heading into the indoor season for the first time. Other veterans include Emilie Amaro who is finally healthy and ready to challenge the school record in the steeplechase that she approached as a freshman back in 2009. Jessica Tonn redshirted the outdoor season as a freshman, but is a NCAA hopeful at either 1,500 or 5,000 meters. Georgia Griffin returns for her final season and is in the top-10 all-time for the Cardinal in the 10,000. Joining the veterans is likely the deepest group of newcomers in the country. Aisling Cuffe, Alli Billmeyer, Molly McNamara, Mary Kate Anselmini and Claire Durkin all gained valuable experience during cross-country season, but it remains to be seen who is ready to step up on the track. Cuffe is the most likely, having been the most decorated high school runner in recent years. The Cardinal has a total of eight freshmen looking for a breakthrough, along with veterans such as Victoria Pennings and Kristin Reese who have had success in the past. In the middle distances, O'Hare and Justine Fedronic give Stanford a formidable duo in the 800 meters.
"Aisling Cuffe is one of the best high school distance runners ever," said Floreal. However, she is just a freshman so we have to leave her room to mature and grow. Jessica Tonn is now a year older, so she is ready to take that next step. Kathy Kroeger is healthy and in great shape, so this will be a new process for us to have her healthy going into indoors."
This group will be again a strength for the Cardinal led by two likely 2012 Olympians. Katerina Stefanidi already has the Olympic "B" standard and as the top pole vaulter from Greece is planning her trip to London. Stefanidi will first set her sights on the NCAA title both indoors and outdoors as she tries to improve on her runner-up finish of a year ago. Also with the potential to be in London this summer is Arantxa King who made the Bermuda Olympic team back in 2008. King is a former NCAA runner-up in the long jump and after a redshirt season last year due to injury, is back ready to challenge for an NCAA title. The Cardinal will be loaded in the long and triple jumps, despite losing Whitney Liehr and Brittni Dixon-Smith to graduation. Jordan Merback is healthy once again and should challenge for the NCAAs in the triple jump, while Karynn Dunn is a former U.S. Junior Champion in the long jump and is ready to make her presence felt at the collegiate level. In the high jump, Elaine Patten hopes to lead the Cardinal as Adrienne Johnson works her way back from injury.
"We really have three jumpers with Arantxa King, Jordan Merback and Karynn Dunn who can be really good," said Floreal. "Despite losing Whitney Liehr and Brittni Dixon-Smith, we replaced them right away. Of course, Katerina Stefanidi is the queen. She has a chance to win NCAAs and be in the Olympics."
The Cardinal is still developing a young group in the throws, including converted sprinter Alyssa Wisdom. Despite the learning curve, Wisdom will be counted on to lead the group as its most accomplished thrower. She should be a threat in the Pac-12 meet in the shot put. The rest of the throws group is freshmen, but Rebecca Hammar and Christina Medina both have bright futures. In the javelin, Brianna Bain is expected to pick up right where Eda Karesin left off last year, despite being just a freshman. She is the rarer thrower that will contribute immediately.
"Throwers typically don't compete as freshmen, so it will be 50-50," said Floreal. "Both Rebecca Hammar and Christina Medina are going to be good, but are they strong enough to make the adjustment? We won't know until further into the season. The star of the throwers will be Brianna Bain. I think she can threaten the school record as a freshman, which is pretty exciting."
The Cardinal recruited a strong class in the multis with Maria Rotello and Madeline Treasure coming to The Farm. The speed that the freshmen can pick up each event will determine how fast they can help the Cardinal, but the talent is there. Karynn Dunn also has experience in the multis, although Floreal would like to leave her alone to concentrate on the jumps if possible.
"Maddie Treasure is the surprise in this group. The way that she is training and just the way that she carries herself," said Floreal. "I think she is going to be able to help us right away, which is rare for a freshman."