When the Payton Jordan Invitational comes to the Farm each year, it’s always a special occasion, as the race brings not only the best collegiate runners in the nation but also professional runners to Cobb Track at Angell Field in a competition that nearly always offers favorable conditions for middle and long-distance runners. It was certainly an extra-special meet for Stanford runners this year, with personal records being set left and right and school and personal records being shattered.
Leading the charge was junior Aisling Cuffe, who continued to add to the growing list of accolades that she has posted this season with an astounding time of 15:11.13 in the 5,000 meters. She finished sixth in the race amidst a group of professionals and collegians alike.
“I was ready to race against a bunch of people with ‘unattached’ next to their names or ‘Nike’ next to their names and all these sponsors and stuff,” said Cuffe in a post-meet interview with Stanford Athletics. “It’s about time we got to mix it up with the big dogs, and it felt really good.”
Not only did her time shatter her previous personal record of 15:53.95 — set in this past indoor season — but it also set a new Stanford record and marked the third-fastest 5,000 time in collegiate history. It was an improvement of nearly 10 seconds over the previous Stanford record of 15:20.44. For her efforts, Cuffe was awarded the USTFCCCA National Women’s Track and Field Athlete of the Week award.
In addition, the 5,000 also proved very fruitful for senior Jessica Tonn, who also set a new personal best of 15:32.26 to beat her old mark by 22 seconds and put her at No. 7 on the all-time Stanford 5,000 list. Freshman Vanessa Fraser ran in the third heat and also set a personal best.
On the men’s side, Stanford had a handful of individuals with phenomenal races in the 5,000, with junior Joe Rosa, senior Erik Olson and freshman Sean McGorty all claiming times in the all-time Stanford top 10 with times of 13:33.56, 13:36.91 and 13:37.64, respectively. McGorty, who is taking a redshirt season, was competing unattached. Freshman Jack Keelan and sophomore Garrett Sweatt also notched new personal bests.
The Payton Jordan meet also lived up to its billing as one of the best events for middle and long-distance runners to have top-notch meets, with the professionals competing in the first heat of the 5,000 claiming each of the top eight times in the event in the world this year.
In one of the Cardinal’s strongest events, the women’s 800, Stanford athletes again shined, with sophomore Amy Weissenbach posting a 2:02.60 to continue to improve on her already-phenomenal performances and sophomore Claudia Saunders breaking her personal record by multiple seconds to run a 2:03.44, which put her at third all-time on the Stanford 800 list. Justine Fedronic, who exhausted her outdoor eligibility last season and ran unattached, also posted a fantastic 2:02.38.
With the Pac-12 Championships rapidly approaching from May 17-18, Payton Jordan showed the team to be in fantastic shape and seemingly very well prepared to face off against the other top collegiate athletes in the country.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu.