Five individual titles highlighted a successful trip to the Pac-12 Championships for the Stanford track and field teams. The women placed second while the men tied for fifth, as host Oregon swept both titles.
Freshman Brianna Bain got things going for the women’s team on Saturday, winning the Pac-12 title in the javelin. Bain’s final throw of 53.58 meters was good enough for both the title and a new Stanford record.
Success in the field continued on Sunday, when senior Katerina Stefanidi won the pole vault for the second straight year. Her vault of 4.48 meters broke her own Stanford record and was just two centimeters short of the Olympic “A” standard that Stefanidi is seeking in order to represent her home country of Greece in the London Olympics.
In other field events, redshirt senior Arantxa King and junior Karynn Dunn placed second and third, respectively, in the long jump. King’s first jump of 6.42 meters was the best in the field until Arizona State’s Constance Ezugha edged her by three centimeters on her final jump. King added a third-place finish in the triple jump, while junior Alyssa Wisdom placed third in the hammer throw.
On the track, sophomore Kori Carter rounded out the individual wins on the women’s side with a victory in the 100-meter hurdles. Carter narrowly edged out classmate Katie Nelms, 12.99 seconds to 13.01, and both were far better than the previous Stanford record of 13.13, which was also set by Carter.
Carter and Nelms also contributed to a third-place finish in the 4×100-meter relay. Redshirt senior Shataya Hendricks and junior Carissa Levingston ran the additional two legs to help the team put up a 44.25, good for the second-fastest time in Stanford history. Hendricks also placed third in the 100 and sixth in the 200. Junior Kathy Kroeger had the best finish in the distances, placing second in the 5,000.
Meanwhile, the individual winners on the men’s side were no strangers to success in big meets, as seniors Amaechi Morton and Chris Derrick both added a Pac-12 title to their trophy cases.
Morton won the 400-meter hurdles with the sixth-fastest time in the world this year. His 48.95 missed his own school record by just one-hundredth of a second, but it was enough for the Olympic “A” standard. Along with his first Pac-12 title, Morton added a second-place finish in the 110-meter hurdles to account for 18 of the team’s 78 total points.
Derrick started out his Sunday with a close runner-up finish behind Arizona’s Lawi Lalang in the 1,500. Lalang and Derrick also finished 1-2 at the NCAA Cross Country Championships and both the 3,000 and 5,000 at the NCAA Indoor Championships earlier this year. Derrick broke through later on Sunday, though, edging out Lalang and his teammate Stephen Sambu to win the 5,000. The win was Derrick’s second career title in the event and third overall.
“It was a really good day,” Derrick said. “For the 1,500, I would have liked to have won, but I got boxed in a little early. I closed fast, which I was happy with, but I just couldn’t catch [Lalang]. The 5k was a slugfest. It was a really tough race, and Sambu was the one pushing the pace. With a mile or 2k to go, I noticed Lawi hurting, and I had never seen him struggling. There was a lot of lead-trading, and I was trying to keep up the pressure to finally beat the guy that had beaten me before. We were all wiped afterward, but I was pleased to come out on top.”
Other top finishers for the men were senior Benjamin Johnson, who placed third in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, and redshirt junior Geoffrey Tabor, who placed third in the shot put. Tabor fouled in every attempt at the discus, though, so he was unable to repeat his 2011 title.
Overall, the men were disappointed with their team finish.
“We weren’t too happy with that,” Derrick said. “We’re at that level as a team where we’re in a pack of quality teams and we needed a big meet to break through. We had some good performances, but not enough. We know we’re built more for NCAAs, though, so we’re looking forward to that.”
Next up for the track and field teams is the NCAA Regional in Austin, Texas, on May 24-26. The NCAA Championships will follow two weeks later in Des Moines, Iowa.