Having had only seven partial- or full-team competitions on its regular-season schedule to prepare, Stanford track and field ventures to Southern California for the Pac-12 Championships. USC will play host to the three-day competition, which gets underway on Friday, as Cardinal athletes seek to qualify for the next stage of the postseason: NCAA West Prelims.
Much is on the line for the Cardinal as they head into the weekend’s action. In each half of the country, the top 48 athletes in individual events and top 24 teams in each relay advance to NCAA Prelims. May 16 — the conclusion of most conference championships around the nation — marks the final day athletes may qualify for the regional competition.
Distance events are where Stanford has repeatedly seen some of its best performances this season. Fifth year Ella Donaghu enters the weekend boasting the conference’s No. 1 mark in the women’s 5000 meters; Donaghu’s time of 15:29.42 is seven seconds faster than the second-best mark in the Pac-12 — 15:36.41 by Oregon’s Carmela Cardama Baez — and situates her at No. 3 in the nation in the event.
However, it remains to be seen whether Donaghu will seek the conference title in the 5000-meter run or will instead take on the women’s 800 meters or 1500 meters.
Redshirt freshman Charles Hicks has established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the men’s 10,000 meters, with his 28:25.29 mark being not only the No. 1 time in the conference, but also among the top 15 in the country. Like Donaghu, however, it is still unknown whether Hicks will compete in the event in which he reigns supreme; the start sheet also lists Hicks as being available for the men’s 5,000 meters.
With the No. 3 time in the conference, freshman Ky Robinson will contend for the men’s 3000-meter steeplechase title. His debut season mark of 8:45.32 puts him less than three seconds behind Washington State’s Colton Johnson, who leads the Pac-12 with a time of 8:42.80.
In shorter distances, fifth year Christina Aragon is among the conference’s top five performers in the women’s 1500 meters. She is one of Stanford’s top Pac-12 returning placers after having been the runner-up in the event at the 2018 Pac-12 Championships. Senior Jessica Lawson is set to join Aragon in the women’s 1500 meters and recorded a second-place finish in the distance at the most recent Pac-12 Championships in 2019.
Redshirt freshman Alexa Rossum has been a star among Stanford sprinters in the women’s 100 meters and 200 meters, although Rossum’s lifetime-best marks in the events — 11.29 and 23.41, respectively — were both admittedly wind-aided. She is set to compete in both distances, with the women’s 200-meter prelims taking place Friday evening followed by the 100-meter prelims Saturday evening.
In the field, senior Virginia Miller will look to capture Stanford’s ninth-straight women’s javelin conference title. Her mark of 171-9 ranks second heading into the competition behind a 174-7 launch by Arizona State’s Alizee Minard. Junior Keyshawn King and sophomore J.T. Herrscher will be in contention for the men’s triple jump and men’s pole vault titles, respectively. Both King and Herrscher enter the meet at No. 2 in their events and will look to build on a record of steady improvement.
As for the men’s and women’s teams collectively, it has been over 15 years since the Cardinal have brought home a conference championship — longer than the Pac-12 has been in existence. The women’s squad last claimed the conference title — a Pac-10 crown — in 2005, while the men’s most recent was in 2002.
The weekend in Los Angeles commences with the men’s hammer throw at 10 a.m. PT on Friday at Cromwell Field at Loker Stadium. Live results can be found here.