Feb. 24, 2010
Stanford, Calif. - The Stanford track and field teams will head to Seattle, Wash., this weekend to compete in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships. The unranked Stanford women will be looking to defend its title, while the No. 14 men will be looking for its first title in school history. The meet will begin Friday, February 26, at 12:30 pm and continue on Saturday, February 27, at 11:00 am. Once again, the University of Washington's Dempsey Indoor Stadium will play host to the indoor conference championships.
Last season, the Stanford women put on an impressive display in winning the fifth MPSF title in school history and the first since 2006. The Cardinal scored 115 points, finishing well clear of second-place Oregon with 91.5 points. Individually, the Cardinal had four conference champions, including returners Arantxa King in the long jump and Kate Niehaus in the 5,000 meters.
This season, Stanford already has six NCAA provisional qualifiers and one automatic qualifier. Katerina Stefanidi set a school record in the pole vault (14-0) and punched her ticket to the NCAA meet. Her mark currently ranks as tied for eighth in the nation. The provisional qualifiers in the field are King in the long jump with a mark of 20-7 ¼, which ranks 13th and Whitney Liehr in the triple jump, who leaped 41-10 ½ and ranks 21st. Liehr is also the top qualifier in the MPSF entering the meet.
On the track, three women have earned provisional standards in the 5,000 meters. Stephanie Marcy (16:19.72) leads the way ranked 17th nationally, while Georgia Griffin (16:38.25) and Kate Niehaus (16:41.07) have also earned provisional marks. In the sprints, Griffin Matthew earned a provisional mark in the 200 meters with a time of 23.80 to rank 18th.
The Cardinal women will face tough competition from No. 1 Oregon and No. 16 Arizona, amongst others. The Ducks have the top qualifier in eight events and both relays entering the meet. Washington and Arizona State join the Cardinal as contenders to upset Oregon.
On the men's side, No. 14 Stanford faces a deep field that features five teams in the top 25. No. 2 Oregon, No. 5 Arizona State, No. 18 Arizona and No. 24 California will join Stanford in an attempt to unseat UCLA as the conference champion.
Last season, the Cardinal finished seventh with 68 points as the top nine places were separated buy just 29.5 points. The top six spots were separated by just 8.5 points, meaning an additional first-place finish for any of the top six teams would have meant a conference title for any of those teams.
Stanford's only conference champion from a season ago, Myles Bradley, in the 60-meter hurdles, was lost to graduation. However, the Cardinal have plenty of candidates for a conference title this season. Stanford has already amassed 12 provisional standards and two automatic standards so far in 2010.
The distance contingent leads the way for Stanford with Justin Marpole-Bird (3:58.76) and Dylan Ferris (3:58.90) earning auto standards in the mile. The two times rank sixth and eighth nationally. Each has also earned provisional standards in a second event with Marpole-Bird (7:57.15) ranking 15th nationally in the 3,000 meters and Ferris (1:48.67) ranking 11th in the 800 meters.
The other standout this season has been Jake Riley, who ranks 10th nationally in the 5,000 meters with a time of 13:52.87. He also earned the provisional standard in the 3,000 with a time of 8:02.73, which ranks 30th.
JT Sullivan has also earned multiple provisional standards, ranking 19th in the mile (4:00.02) and 27th in the 3,000 (8:01.61). Other provisional standards from those two events are Miles Unterreiner in the mile (4:03.21) and Elliott Heath in the 3,000 (8:01.74).
Considering the depth of the distance program, it is no surprise that the Cardinal rank second nationally in the distance medley relay with a time of 9:30.25. Sullivan, Amaechi Morton, Ferris and Marpole-Bird combined for that provisional standard, which is just off the nation's top time from Oregon. This sets up a battle that could be one of the highlights of the meet.
The other provisional standards for Stanford came in the field events with Jules Sharpe in the high jump and Geoffrey Tabor in the shot put. Sharpe ranks 20th in the high jump (7-1), while Tabor ranks 33rd in the shot put (58-5 ¼).
The Oregon and Arizona State men lead the conference with five MPSF leaders apiece. The men's meet promised to be very competitive though, as seven different schools have a conference leader.