By Sofia Scekic
Senior Ella Donaghu finished 10th overall in 20:26.7 and the fourth-ranked Cardinal women took third at the 2021 NCAA Cross Country Championship on a hilly course in Stillwater, Okla. on Monday. This is the second consecutive year that the team finished third and the fifth consecutive year finishing among the top five.
Senior Julia Heymach finished six seconds behind Donaghu, earning 13th place for her first All-American honors in cross country. She earned two All-American honors in the mile and distance medley relay after the 2019-20 indoor track season, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic put most sports, including the outdoor track season, on hold.
Stanford’s other senior, Jessica Lawson, finished 56th overall in 21:06.9 as the third Cardinal runner to cross the finish line. In last season’s NCAA Championship, she finished 11th overall to earn her first cross country All-American honors, but could not build off of that performance this year. Fifth-year Christina Aragon finished about 20 seconds behind Lawson in 21:27.0 to place 88th overall.
The final three runners for the Cardinal were all underclassmen, a good sign for the future, as those runners got their first taste of championship racing early in their collegiate career. Lucy Jenks led the Stanford freshmen with a 92nd place overall finish, one second behind Aragon.
Freshman Zofia Dudek, who placed either second or third in all three of her races this season including the Pac-12 Championships, was the 156th overall runner to cross the line on Monday. She finished in 21:54.3, much slower than her season-best 19:14.9 at Pac-12s, and she was pictured on crutches in a team photo taken after the awards ceremony.
Redshirt freshman Grace Connolly rounded out the Cardinal squad with a 181th place finish in 22:11.6. As a team, Stanford scored 207 points, behind champion BYU (96) and runner-up NC State (161) and slightly ahead of fourth-place Michigan State (212). Alabama’s Mercy Chelangat won the race in 20:01.1.
On the men’s side, the team’s fifth place finish marked the seventh year in a row that the Cardinal have finished among the top six. Heading into the championships, the Stanford men were ranked fourth in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association rankings.
Redshirt freshman Charles Hicks, who finished second last week at the Pac-12 Championship, was the first Cardinal to cross the line. He ran the 10k course in 30:21.0 to finish 14th, while freshman Cole Sprout placed just behind him in 15th with a time of 30:21.4.
Freshman Ky Robinson followed up his strong Pac-12s performance with a 46th overall finish in 30:56.2 as the third Cardinal to cross the finish line. Junior DJ Principe, the Cardinal’s seventh overall runner at Pac-12s, turned in a solid performance on the national stage as well. He was the fourth runner from Stanford to finish; he took 72nd overall in 31:12.3.
Senior Alek Parsons, who finished fifth at the Pac-12 Championship, rounded out the Cardinal’s scorers with an 82nd place overall finish in 31:19.5.
Senior Callum Bolger and freshman Devin Hart finished in 31:33.0 and 32:06.5, respectively, to finish in 100th and 141th place.
The Cardinal men totaled 194 points to finish behind Northern Arizona (60), Notre Dame (87), Oklahoma State (142) and Arkansas (181). BYU’s Conner Mantz turned in a dominating 29:26.1 performance to finish the race 22 seconds ahead of runner-up Adriaan Wildschutt of Florida State.
Most Stanford runners will now turn their attention to the outdoor track season. Their first meet, the Stanford Invitational, is scheduled for April 3.