In its first and only home meet of the season, Stanford track and field took on an array of Pac-12 foes and outside competitors in the two-day Stanford Invitational. Conference challengers included Washington, UCLA, USC and Bay-Area rival Cal, each of which showcased the Pac-12’s strength.
Friday evening saw Stanford dominance in distance events, with freshman Cole Sprout and fifth year Ella Donaghu racing to first place finishes in the men’s and women’s 5000 meter, respectively. Sprout crossed the finish line in 13:43.92 to narrowly edge out Iona competitor Ehab El-Sandali, with less than a second separating the two.
Stanford freshman Thomas Boyden followed closely behind to earn third in 13:45.38, sophomore Devin Hart finished sixth and senior D.J. Principe, freshman Ky Robinson and senior Callum Bolger finished, in order, seventh through ninth to help the Cardinal claim six of the top 10 spots.
Donaghu was met with less of a challenge on the women’s side, coasting to a near 24-second victory with a finishing mark of 15:36.52. She was joined in the top six by freshman Lucy Jenks at third place and sophomore Grace Connolly in fifth. The evening appeared to be a glimpse of the deep talent of Stanford’s distance squad.
“The men’s 5K was outstanding with seven guys under 13:58,” said head coach J.J. Clark of Friday’s highlights. “And then Ella and the 5K with Lucy Jenks and Grace … that was also very good.”
The Cardinal found less success in the Friday afternoon field events: men’s and women’s javelin, men’s and women’s hammer throw, men’s and women’s long jumps and women’s pole vault. Freshman Allan Hunter posted the top Stanford’s men’s finish with a 24’1″ third place showing in the men’s long jump, and a 162’8″ throw in the women’s javelin earned senior Virginia Miller second place.
Saturday’s track events finished in the same manner as Friday’s: with a Cardinal win. Freshman Ellie Deligianni was the one responsible for the victory with a 2:08.31 champion showing in the women’s 800 meter run. The win was not without a challenge, however, as Deligianni struggled to hold onto an early lead through the second lap. Unattached runner Susan Aneno closed the gap during the final 100m to afford Deligianni just a 0.09 second victory.
Sophomore Morgan Foster and senior Carolyn Wilson went three and four in the event to round out the Cardinal’s top finishers.
Freshman Samantha Thomas continued Stanford’s dominance on the women’s side with a 1:01.85 victory in the 400 meter hurdles. Cal’s Deshae Wise was Thomas’ closest challenger with a 1:02.76 finish.
The Cardinal did not field a team for either 4 X 100 meter relay, in which UCLA reigned supreme. The Bruins immediately followed up with another event title as Melani Rodney crossed the line in 53.37 in the women’s 400 meter dash — again a Cardinal-less race without senior regular Ashlan Best, who was out for precautionary injury measures.
“We want to make sure that [Best] is able to maximize her abilities that will make her one of the nation’s best 400m runners, 200m runners in the country,” Clark explained. “We’re just trying to maximize her ability and get her in the position to help us at the national level.”
Junior Gabe Navarro was Stanford’s top finisher on the men’s side of the 400 at third in 47.57, with junior Miles Zoltak hot on his heels at 47.80 in fourth. Navarro complemented his 400 meter dash showing with a 21.27 mark in the 200 meter, good enough for second place behind Washington’s Evan Mafilas.
Fifth year Christina Aragon relied on an impressive final kick to secure second place in the women’s 1500 meter in 4:17.56, crossing the line shoulder-to-shoulder with senior Julia Heymach, whose official time was 4:17.82.
A familiar theme from Friday, Stanford was largely absent from Saturday’s field event leaderboards, with both the men’s and women’s triple jump and men’s pole vault being the exceptions. Junior Keyshawn King tallied a 52’6″ jump to claim the men’s title while sophomore Ellie Tallius and senior Aria Small logged a 1-2 finish, both jumping 41’1.5″. Sophomore JT Herrscher and Max Manson recorded a 2-3 finish in the pole vault with marks of 15’9” and 15’6″, respectively.
The 1600 meter relay concluded the weekend’s track events, and the Cardinal men — Zoltak, Navarro, junior Andrew Franco and sophomore Karson Lippert — were unable to catch the UCLA’s four to claim a Stanford victory. The Bruins finished in 3:10.31 before the Lippert crossed the line at 3:13.73, with a nearly five-second cushion separating the Cardinal from third-place Cal.
While the unique season has been constantly evolving, the Cardinal’s next challenge is currently set for April 17, when Stanford travels to Oregon for the West Coast Classic.