Track and field blog: In the homestretch

Feb. 18, 2015, 10:55 p.m.

With midterms behind us and the indoor track and field season in its homestretch, I thought it would be a good time to update the Stanford community on our program’s progress.

Since my last blog post, our team has competed at three mid-season meets in preparation for the championship portion of the season. The highlights from the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark., included a big victory for the women’s distance medley relay. The relay featured a star-studded cast of underclassmen (three true freshmen and a junior), all of whom have competed for their country at the international level. Their 11:04.99 time should be fast enough to get them into the 12-team field at the NCAA championships.

Junior pole vaulter Garrett Starkey continued his strong comeback from hip surgery in 2013, clearing 17 feet once again in Arkansas. As I said in an earlier post, everyone is stoked that Garrett is back out there and competing, not only because he’s a huge contributor on the track, but he’s also one of the more genuine and altogether “good guys” on the team. He could’ve walked away from the sport altogether after his injury — many people in his situation would’ve given up and simply said, “This just isn’t for me anymore.” But that’s just not his character; his determined nature is something that all of our athletes should aspire to emulate.

With the glut of mid-season invitational meets to choose from, I think it’s important to explain why the coaching staff chose to go to Fayetteville. Not by coincidence, the NCAA championships will be hosted by the University of Arkansas, and it’s key that our team get used to the Randal Tyson facility before (hopefully) returning for the Big Dance in mid-March. Knowing the ins-and-outs of the facility (read: where the restrooms are), where the clerk’s table is located, where the best warm-up/cool-down routes are and even where to get a good meal before (and after) the races is key to a successful trip.

Familiarity isn’t nearly as big an issue in Seattle, where our teams’ next competition — the Flotrack Husky Classic — was located. We race at the Dempsey (the indoor track/football facility on the campus of the University of Washington) several times per year, including this past weekend. Junior sprinter Kristyn Williams proved once again why she’s one of the best athletes in Stanford track and field history, setting the Stanford indoor record and the Dempsey facility record in the 400 meters. Kristyn’s versatility as a runner — her ability to compete both in the individual and relay events — makes her an incredibly valuable part of our team.

Other Stanford standouts from the Husky Classic included fifth-year senior Jessica Tonn, who blazed the final lap of her 5,000-meter race to win going away in 15:47.65. Jess is an outstanding senior leader for our women’s team in nearly every way: she’s an outstanding example of a true scholar-athlete (she’s currently in the Communications co-term program), she’s an impeccably hard worker and the track and she carries herself like a professional in everything she does.

Speaking of being a great example off the track, I’d like to talk a little about our head coach Chris Miltenberg. Coach Milt, who’s in charge of the male and female distance runners, recently became a father for the third time, as he and his wife welcomed Caitlin Kelly Miltenberg on Feb. 7. Coach Milt is an impeccable leader and father, despite the time away from his family that his job demands. He knows how to be present — when he’s with his family, he’s with his family 100 percent, and when he’s at work, he’s 100 percent at work. It may not seem like it, but we athletes pick up on small details like that. At least for me, I look to him not only as a coach, but also as someone I want to emulate in life. His mentality has rubbed off on all of his athletes, and we’re all better men/women for it.

Next up for the Cardinal is the conference championship meet (MPSFs, as we call it) on February 27 and 28 in Seattle at the Dempsey — the last chance to run/jump/throw an NCAA qualifying mark.

Contact Cameron Miller at cmiller6 ‘at’

Cameron Miller is a sports desk editor for The Stanford Daily's Vol. 246 and is the men's and women's golf writer. He also writes on NCAA-related matters. Cameron is also a Stanford student-athlete, competing on the cross country and track and field teams. He is originally from Bakersfield, California, but spends most of his time away from the Farm on the state's Central Coast. Contact him at [email protected].

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