Feb. 23, 2012
SEATTLE - The Cardinal track and field teams will head to the Pacific Northwest for the MPSF Championships this weekend. The No. 12 Cardinal men will attempt to defend its conference title, while the No. 18 women look for its 10th-straight top-three finish and it sixth title in 10 years.
The competition begins Friday, February 24, and continues until Saturday, February 25. The full competition schedule can be found HERE. Flotrack will broadcast the meet live on its website, www.flotrack.org.
The expanded MPSF is loaded with several of the nation's top teams competing. The men's side includes five of the top-25 teams, including conference newcomer BYU. No. 6 Arizona, No. 7 Arizona State, No. 12 Stanford, No. 16 BYU and No. 19 Oregon comprise the ranked teams, but several others will also be in the mix. On the women's side, No. 1 Oregon leads the way, but six teams are ranked in the top-25. In addition to the Ducks, No. 14 BYU, No. 16 Arizona, No. 18 Stanford, No. 19 California and No. 23 Washington.
The Cardinal men has its work cut out in order to repeat as MPSF Champions. Stanford will need to repeat its success in the distances as well as get contributions throughout the sprinting and field events. In the distances, Chris Derrick is scheduled to compete in the 3,000 meters where he is the top seed, but will have to face the dynamic Arizona duo of Stephen Sambu and Lawi Lelang. Derrick will not run the 5K after smashing the Stanford record at the Millrose Games, instead he is scheduled to make his collegiate debut in the mile and anchor the DMR.
Other top hopes for Stanford in the distances are Jake Riley
, Brendan Gregg
and Miles Unterreiner
. Riley has the auto in the 5,000, but will run just the 3K in attempt to get to nationals in a second event. Gregg is the top seed entered in the 5K, having already run 13:48.64. That time is probably good enough to make the NCAA meet, but a few second faster could secure that spot as the auto is 13:44.0. Unterreiner is the defending MPSF champ at 5,000 meters and will be looking for a season breakthrough.
In the middle distances, Michael Atchoo is the loan sub-4 minute miler entered and is the top seed. He will also leadoff the DMR, which is still looking for a qualifying time for the NCAA meet. Tyler Stutzman is the third seed in the mile and Marco Bertolotti is also a potential scorer. In the 800, the trio of Luke Lefebure, Thomas Mallon and Dylan Ferris will attempt to score big points.
The sprinting and hurdle group will be led by Amaechi Morton who is entered in four events. Morton is the top seed in the 400 meters, but will also run the 200 meters and the 60-meter hurdles where he should also score big points. Finally, Morton will run the 4x400-meter relay where Stanford is looking to improve on anything it has run so far this season.
In the field, Stanford hopes to score big in the jumps where freshmen Dartis Willis II and Darian Brooks will make their debut at a championship meet. Willis II leads the high jumpers, although veteran Jules Sharpe is entered and hopes to make his season debut. Brooks will compete in the long jump and triple jump. In addition, Corey Dysick is a threat in the pole vault and Geoffrey Tabor and Jeremy Hines look to score in the shot put.
On the women's side, Stanford has an uphill climb in one of the deepest fields ever at the meet. The Cardinal will be strong in the field events with the top seeds in three events. Arantxa King is far and away the top seed in the long jump, having already jumped over 21 feet, but will also compete in the triple jump for the first time this season. She was the 2009 MPSF Champion in the triple jump. Speaking of the triple jump, Jordan Merback is the top seed, but will also compete in the long jump. Karynn Dunn is the other threat for the Cardinal in booth jumping events. Finally, Katerina Stefanidi is the top seed in the pole vault and the favorite to win the second MPSF title of her career.
In the sprints and hurdles, Kori Carter will look for her first MPSF title in the 60-meter hurdles. The Cardinal record holder is also a threat for big points in the 200 meters. Her main competition in the hurdles may be from teammate Katie Nelms as the sophomore duo are the top two seeds. Other sprinting hopes are Shataya Hendricks in the 60 and 200 meters and Kellie Schueler in the 400 meters.
The distance crew will be led by Kathy Kroeger and Aisling Cuffe in the 3,000 meters. Kroeger already has the auto in the 5K and so like Derrick will run just the 3K and anchor the DMR. Cuffe set the American Junior Record in the 3K earlier this season and will look to lower that record to achieve the NCAA auto standard. Jessica Tonn in the 3K and Emilie Amaro in the 5K are also solid bets to score for Stanford.
The top hopes in the middle distances are Justine Fedronic and Joy O'Hare in the 800 meters. Each has limited racing so far this season and will look for a big personal best. In the mile, Stanford's best chance is freshman Alli Billmeyer.
Both Stanford teams has shown the ability to step up at the MPSF Championships in past seasons as Franklin P. Johnson Director of Track and Field Edrick Floreal puts the Cardinal in enough events to go after the titles. The expanded conference will make things difficult, but look for both teams to be in contention as the final events wrap up on Saturday.