Twenty-eight Stanford track and field athletes will test their luck against a stacked field at the NCAA West Prelims in College Station, Texas from Wednesday through Saturday. The competition is the second stage in the postseason for the Cardinal after both the men’s and women’s quads took seventh place at the Pac-12 Championships with scores of 59 and 64, respectively.
At NCAA West Prelims, the competition field will be made up of the top 48 athletes in each individual event and the top 24 teams in each relay from the western half of the country; the NCAA East Prelims in Jacksonville will host the top 48 in individual events and top 24 in relays from the nation’s eastern half. The Cardinal will be equally represented in men’s and women’s competition in Texas, with 14 athletes competing on the men’s side and 14 competing on the women’s.
Much is on the line for Stanford competitors as they enter the weekend. From College Station, the top 12 finishers in each event will advance to the NCAA Championships, to be held June 9 – 12 in Eugene, Ore.
To the surprise of few, fifth-year Ella Donaghu is the highest-seeded Cardinal athlete. In the women’s 5,000 meters, Donaghu boasts the No. 2 mark for the western region. Her time of 15:29.42 situates her a tight seven seconds ahead of the region’s No. 3 seed, Northern Arizona’s Taryn O’Neil, but Whittni Orton of BYU sits comfortably at the No. 1 spot on the start list with a time of 15:12.91.
Donaghu will be joined in the event by senior Julia Heymach, freshman Lucy Jenks, sophomore Grace Connolly and senior Jessica Lawson. Heymach was a highlight for the Cardinal at the Pac-12 Championships when she cruised to the individual title in the women’s 5,000 meters despite never having run the event on the track before and having raced to a personal best in the women’s 800 meters just an hour prior. Her mark of 15:40.74 is good enough for the No. 9 spot at NCAA West Prelims.
There are also five Cardinal women slated to compete in the women’s 1500 meters: fifth year Christina Aragon is set to run alongside Donaghu, Heymach, Jenks and Lawson.
On the men’s side of the 5,000 meters, Stanford holds nine of the 48 spots in the event. Redshirt freshman Charles Hicks leads the Cardinal in the race as the No. 10 seed and fourth-highest Pac-12 runner behind Oregon’s Cole Hocker and Cooper Teare — the region’s No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively — and Colorado’s Eduardo Herrera (No. 5). Fifth year Alek Parsons and senior Callum Bolger claim spots No. 15 and 16, and freshmen Thomas Boyden and Cole Sprout follow up as No. 21 and No. 25, respectively, to round out the Cardinal’s top five.
Sophomore Devin Hart (No. 27), senior D.J. Principe (No. 34), freshman Ky Robinson (No. 39) and junior Meika Beaudoin-Rousseau (No. 41) will also represent Stanford in the event, in which all nine of the Cardinal athletes have recorded sub-14-minute marks this season.
For Stanford’s sprints squad, redshirt freshman Alexa Rossum will aim for a top-10 finish in the women’s 100 meters, which she enters as No. 9 with a time of 11.29. The Pac-12 is set to make a statement in the event: Including Rossom, four of the top nine seeds are from the Cardinal’s conference, with USC’s Twanisha Terry in the top spot, boasting a time of 11.02. Rossum will also make an appearance in the women’s 200 meters as the No. 26 rank.
The men’s 200 meters will feature junior Gabriel Navarro — the lone representative of Stanford’s men’s team in the sprints. Houston’s Shaun Maswanganyi leads the men’s 200 field with a speedy mark of 19.93.
In the field, Stanford has athletes set to compete in both men’s and women’s pole vaults: sophomore J.T. Herrscher will compete Wednesday in the first round of the men’s side, and graduate student Erika Malaspina will test her luck in the first round of the women’s side on Thursday.