Stanford cross country will host its only home meet of the season at the Stanford Golf Course for the 40th annual Stanford Invitational on Saturday morning. Almost 2,800 of the West Coast’s best high school runners and over 500 collegiate runners will compete in 14 races throughout the morning.
The collegiate men and women will begin their races at 9:50 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., respectively, sandwiched between 12 high school races. The men will be racing an eight-kilometer course while the women will be competing in a six-kilometer course. The high school races will all be on a five-kilometer course and divided between six divisions of runners.
This will be the second meet of the season for both of Stanford’s teams, with each claiming first place finishes at the University of San Francisco Invitational on Aug. 31.
For the No. 20 men’s team, Saturday’s meet will be a good opportunity for coach Chris Miltenberg to continue to evaluate the performance of his new and returning athletes and determine the top seven that Stanford will put forward in the year’s remaining meets.
Five of last year’s top seven return for the men, including senior Erik Olson and junior Joe Rosa, who were Stanford’s top two finishers at the NCAA Championships last year, in which the Cardinal placed 16th. The Cardinal, however, will need to examine the performances of its runners in both the San Francisco Invitational and the Stanford Invitational to attempt to replace the production of departed All-Americans Benjamin Johnson and Miles Unterreiner.
Many of the sophomores on the team are vying for a larger role, including Garrett Sweatt, Kevin Bishop and Will Drinkwater, each of whom ran in Stanford’s top seven at the San Francisco Invitational. Sweatt and Bishop each placed in the top ten with times of under 26 minutes in the eight-kilometer. In addition to the talented sophomore corps, the Cardinal welcomes 10 freshmen to the roster—nearly half of the 24 listed athletes. Although it is not expected that any of them will crack the top seven, they will have an opportunity on Saturday to show the coaches their promise.
Meanwhile, for the No. 8 women’s team, Saturday will represent another opportunity for the Cardinal to make a huge splash among overmatched opponents. The women return their entire top seven from last year apart from reigning Pac-12 Champion and two-time All-American Kathy Kroeger.
Stanford started its season off with a bang last month at the San Francisco Invitational, in which it claimed first place by an enormous margin. The entire top seven finished in the top 10 of the race, with senior Jessica Tonn and junior Aisling Cuffe—Stanford’s top finisher at the 2012 NCAA Championships—leading the charge with their 17:44 times in the five-kilometer to finish at second and third, respectively. None of the top seven finished with a time slower than the twin 18:09.4 mark recorded by standout sophomore Megan Lacy and junior Molly McNamara.
The Cardinal looks to have another easy time in Saturday’s meet against a field that includes the No. 23 University of San Francisco as the only other ranked school. The women hold a nine-year winning streak in the meet, while the men enter the meet with an 18-year streak.
Both squads will look to keep those streaks alive as teams from Stanford and over 30 other schools from the West Coast will compete starting at 9:50 a.m. on Saturday, while the meet itself and high school races will begin at 9 a.m.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu.