At the 44th annual Stanford Invitational on Friday and Saturday, senior Mackenzie Little broke a 10-year-old meet record in the javelin, while sophomores Ashlan Best and Aria Small set personal bests in sprints and triple jump, respectively. Cobb Track and Angell Field hosted top collegians, world champions and premier high school talent.
While several Cardinal athletes broke personal records, it was the Stanford women’s team that excelled across multiple fronts, led by Little’s meet record. The senior from Sydney, Australia launched the javelin 58.55 meters, breaking Oregon alumna Rachel Yurkovich’s meet record (58.20 meters) set in 2009. The reigning NCAA Champion in the event, Little took the meet title, eclipsing 190 feet (57.91 meters) for the third time in her career, a feat that no other collegiate thrower has accomplished even once.
Junior Jenna Gray finished second with a 56.09-meter throw that would mark the second longest of her career. The two veterans repeated their 2018 NCAA 1-2 finish. Gray, a two-sport athlete, now trains with the track team twice a week. She was named a first-team All-American setter earlier this year after helping Stanford secure its eighth volleyball national title.
Several Cardinal sophomores had breakout performances this weekend. On Friday, Ashlan Best broke her lifetime personal record in the 100 meters twice. Best set a new best in the prelims (11.73) before breaking that time in the finals (11.64) for third.
In the 200 meters on Saturday, she faced a pair of Olympic gold medalists: Dalilah Muhammad, the 2016 Rio 400-meter hurdles champion, and Brianna Rollins-McNeal, the Rio 100-meter hurdles champion.
The race came down to the final strides. Best finished second (23.44) to Muhammad (23.35). Rollins-McNeal (23.45) took the bronze. Only one-tenth of a second separated the three athletes, as the steep competition worked in Best’s favor. Her performance marks Stanford’s fastest showing in the event in seven years, moving her to No. 8 on Stanford’s all-time performers’ list.
In the triple jump, sophomore Aria Small set a personal record by nearly a foot en route to topping a tough field. In the fifth round of jumps, Tennessee’s Alonie Sutton took the lead with a 12.54 meter jump. Her teammate, LaChyna Roe, claimed the lead on the following jump, clearing 13.22 meters. But it was Small who flew 13.24 meters for the win, leaping from fifth to third on the program’s all-time performers’ list.
“My goal today was to be aggressive, be more aggressive than I was on the last jump,” Small said.
Stanford sophomores also excelled on the distance side. Jess Lawson finished fourth in the fastest section of 1,500 meters with a personal best (4:16.85). Jordan Oakes also set a career record (4:19.16), winning her section of the same event.
On the men’s side, junior Thomas Ratcliffe made his collegiate debut, placing fifth in the fastest section of the 1,500 meters. Ratcliffe (3:44.53) set a personal best in the event. Fifth-year Steven Fahy finished half a second later (3:45.03) in seventh to record a career best of his own.
In the 5,000 meters, sophomore Connor Lane dipped under 14 minutes for the first time, crossing the line in a personal-best 13:59.43. Lane’s performance marked his first race in a Stanford uniform since the 2017 fall cross country season. At the Stanford Invitational last year, Lane ran unattached in the 5,000 meters, setting a then-lifetime best (14:10.99).
Freshman Max McKhann excelled in the hammer throw, clearing a career-best 59.80 meters for first amongst collegians. His performance was the fourth-best by a freshman in Stanford history.
The Cardinal also got a glimpse of the future over the weekend. Stanford-bound senior Liam Anderson of Redwood High School in Larkspur, CA won the boy’s 3,200 meters, setting a meet record (8:59.77) on Friday. The following day, the future Cardinal won the 1,600 meters in 4:13.49.
Stanford track and field returns to the home oval on Saturday for the annual Big Meet against rival Cal.
Contact Alejandro Salinas at asalinas ‘at’ stanford.edu.