Pac-12 Championships Notes
The 2011 Pac-12 Championships
The 2011 Pac-12 Championships will take place, Saturday, Oct.29, at 9:00 a.m. with the men's 8,000-meter race. The 6,000-meter women's race will follow at 10:00 a.m. Arizona State will host the meet at the Wigwam Golf Course in Litchfield Park, Ariz.
Updates, a live blog and race video will be posted at the meet central page on the Pac-12 website. In addition, flotrack.com will be in attendance providing its usual post-race interviews.
The No. 4 Stanford men are the two-time defending champions and are the favorites for the first Pac-12 Championship, but conference newcomer No. 6 Colorado should provide stiff competition. The other ranked teams are No. 20 UCLA and No. 23 Oregon who is always a threat.
Individually, Chris Derrick is the 2009 champion and was the third last season when Elliott Heath took the title and Jake Riley was second. Both Derrick and Riley will see stiff competition from Lawi Lelang of Arizona who is the current favorite for the NCAA title. Luke Puskedra of Oregon should also be a factor up front.
The Cardinal men are allowed to run 10, which will be an advantage as its depth is among the best in the country. Benjamin Johnson, Erik Olson and Brendan Gregg have been the 3-4-5 runners so far, but a number of other could figure into the Cardinal scoring. Picking a top seven would be even more difficult, making the chance to run 10 ideal for Stanford this week.
The No. 8 Cardinal women are also the defending champion and has won 15 of the last 18 conference titles. It will look to win the first Pac-12 title in the deepest field the conference has ever seen. Last year, four teams finished within six points of each other and the addition of Colorado and the emergence of California make the conference a six-team race this season. No. 2 Washington, No. 5 Arizona, No. 8 Stanford, No. 10 California, No. 11 Oregon and No. 16 Colorado all have legitimate conference title aspirations and could be NCAA podium teams.
Kathy Kroeger is Stanford's top hope for an individual title, although don't rule out veteran Stephanie Marcy or freshman sensation Aisling Cuffe. Jordan Hasay of Oregon is the defending champion and should be the pre-meet favorite.
Joining the three contenders for the Cardinal is Jessica Tonn who was eighth last year and gives Stanford a very solid four. The Cardinal will need someone to step up into the fifth spot to win the title, however. Freshmen Molly McNamara and Alli Billmeyer have shown signs that they might be capable.
Last Year at the Pac-10's
The Cardinal swept the 2010 Pac-10 Championships. The Stanford men dominated the race, scoring just 25 points and getting a 1-2-3 finish from Elliott Heath, Jacob Riley and Chris Derrick. The trio each finished the 8,000-meter course in 23:00 to the lead the Cardinal to a 31-point victory over second-place Oregon. In addition to the big three, Stanford got top-10 performances from Miles Unterreiner and J.T. Sullivan who were ninth and 10th, respectively. Freshman Erik Olson placed 11th, while Riley Sullivan rounded out the top seven in 15th place.
The women won the closest race in Pac-10 history, scoring 62 points, three more than second-place Arizona. Oregon and Washington tied for third with 68 points, making the top four separated by just six points. The difference was Stanford was the only team with three in the top 10 with Kathy Kroeger leading the way in second places, covering the 6,000 meters in 19:49. Stephanie Marcy placed fifth and freshman Jessica Tonn was eighth. Completing the Stanford scoring were Georgia Griffin in 21st and Alexandra Gits in 26th.
Stanford's Pac-10 History
No school has a richer history at the Pac-10 Championships than Stanford as it looks to carry that over to the new Pac-12. The Cardinal women have captured 15 Pac-10 titles, while the men have 13. Those 28 titles are more than any school in Pac-10 history. In addition to the team titles, Stanford has 10 individual champions that have won a total of 13 titles. Two time winners include Grant Robison (2001, `02), Sara Bei (2002, `03) and Arianna Lambie (2005, `07). Chris Derrick will have a chance to add his name to the list this season as he already has a title to his credit (2009).
The men's team is loaded with All-Americans, although many of those honors have come on the track. Chris Derrick owns 10 All-America honors in his career, including three on the cross-country course. Derrick has finished seventh, third and sixth in his first three NCAA Cross Country Championships as he looks to become the first Stanford athlete to win an individual title in cross country. Jake Riley is the other Stanford male with an All-America honor in cross country, having finished seventh last season. He own a total of five All-America honors for his career, including three-straight in the 10,000 meters outdoors. Other returning All-Americans include a pair of steeplechasers, J.T. Sullivan and Benjamin Johnson. Sullivan is a two-time All-American in the event, while Johnson earned his first last spring. Andrew Berberick earned his All-America honor as a part of the distance medley relay, while Miles Unterreiner was second-team All-America in the 5,000 meters indoors and honorable mention in the 10,000 meters outdoors.
The young women's team has not had the same opportunity to collect All-America honors, but that does not mean that they do not have any. Stephanie Marcy is a four-time All-American, including three first team awards. She has twice been an All-American over 10,000 meters on the track and is looking for her first in cross country this season. Also looking for her first honor in cross country is Kathy Kroeger, who has twice earned All-America status during the outdoor season in the 5,000 meters.
Coaching Them Up
Associate Cross Country Coach Jason Dunn returns for his fourth season at Stanford. He has three Pac-10 titles (two men, one women) to his credit and has led the Cardinal men to three top-10 national finishes. This season, PattiSue Plumer has been added as Associate Cross Country Coach and will work mostly with the women's team, leaving Dunn to concentrate mostly on the men. Plumer is one of Stanford's all-time great distance runners having won two NCAA titles and being named to the Stanford Hall of Fame. Plumer was also a 1988 and 1992 U.S. Olympian and brings a breadth of running knowledge to Stanford.