This Week in Sports: Three teams win conference titles, seven players headed to NFL

April 30, 2023, 8:27 p.m.

Welcome to This Week in Sports. We are The Daily’s sports editors, Madeline Grabb and Ells Boone, and we’ll be walking you through the major games, events and stories from the past week, as well as providing a brief preview of what’s coming up this week.

No. 8 women’s tennis capped off a season of undefeated conference matchplay by besting No. 28 USC 4-0 to win the Pac-12 Championships for a fifth time. Sophomore Valencia Xu closed it out for the Cardinal with a comfortable 6-4, 6-2 win over the Trojans’ Grace Piper on court five. Stanford also increased its win streak to 18, a record it will look to extend further in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, with the draw to be announced on Monday.

No. 2 women’s water polo swam away with its second consecutive MPSF title on Sunday. The Cardinal defeated No. 21 San Jose State and No. 3 UCLA on their way to the final, before defeating No. 1 USC to claim the championship. Redshirt senior 2-meter Aria Fischer led the way against the Trojans, contributing four goals and three assists. Beginning May 12, the squad will look to defend their NCAA title from 2022 in this year’s tournament. 

golf player bends down and looks closely at a golf ball after putting it
Junior Michael Thorbjornsen scouts out a shot during the Pac-12 Championships. Thorbjornsen tallied a score of 15-under to capture the individual title and led Stanford to the team championship on Sunday. (Photo: BOB DREBIN/ISI Photos)

Pac-12 Championship action was rife on the Farm, as junior Michael Thorbjornsen had a solid outing on the Stanford Golf Course to clinch the individual Pac-12 title and led men’s golf to its 12th conference championship in program history. Thorbjornsen is the first individual conference champion for the Cardinal since 2015. Meanwhile, the team finished 19-under, while Thorbjornsen’s 15-under edged out Colorado’s Dylan McDermott by just two strokes. The next event for Stanford will be the NCAA Regionals, with the Cardinal slated to tee off on May 15.

No. 8 beach volleyball hosted and finished third at its own Pac-12 Championships on Saturday. This equaled the team’s previous best result at the conference tournament from 2021. In a first for the program, the Cardinal defeated No. 1 UCLA in a tight 3-2 dual match. While Stanford eventually lost in both the winners’ and contenders’ bracket finals, with the latter serving up a rematch against the Bruins, the team received an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinal’s first match is against seven-seed Grand Canyon on Friday.

Seven members of Stanford football are headed to the NFL after this weekend’s draft in Kansas City, Mo. Fifth-year wide receiver Michael Wilson was the first among the Cardinal to hear his name called when he was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the third round. Senior cornerback Kyu Blu Kelly was taken by the Baltimore Ravens two rounds later. The sixth round saw junior quarterback Tanner McKee and senior wide receiver Elijah Higgins drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins, respectively, followed by fifth year safety Kendall Williamson being drafted by the Chicago Bears in the seventh. Fifth-year cornerback Ethan Bonner signed as a free agent and will join Higgins in Miami, while fifth-year wide receiver Brycen Tremayne did the same with the Washington Commanders after the draft concluded.

Sailing hosted the first of four championship events to be held this spring, the ICSA Women’s Team Race Championship. Though Stanford alternatively led and was tied with Yale throughout, the Cardinal ultimately finished runners-up to the Bulldogs. The women will continue their championship pursuit starting May 23 at the ICSA Women’s Fleet Race Nationals.

A batter looks at a baseball after hitting it, post swing.
Junior catcher Alberto Rios during a home game against Utah on March 25, 2023. He had a grand slam on Sunday during Stanford’s matchup versus UCLA, the third game in a three-part series. (Photo: JOHN LOZANO/ISI Photos)

No. 8 baseball started off a packed week with a 6-5 victory over rival Cal at Sunken Diamond on Tuesday. The Cardinal then hosted a three-game home series against Pac-12 opponent UCLA. While Stanford opened the triumvirate with another narrow 6-5 win on Friday, the Bruins prevailed 9-6 in the next game. The Cardinal exacted their revenge on Sunday, however, with a grand slam off that bat of junior catcher Alberto Rios to best UCLA 10-7. 

Redwood Shores hosted Senior Day for No. 4 women’s rowing, which went seven for eight at Saturday’s Pac-12 Challenge. The Cardinal won three of its four races against Iowa in the morning before dominating No. 12 SMU in another four races that afternoon. Next up for Stanford are the Pac-12 Championships, where the Cardinal will look to defend their 2022 title on May 14.

No. 4 women’s lightweight rowing won the varsity four and varsity eight races at the WIRA Championships on Sunday in Folsom, Calif. The Cardinal also finished second in the varsity two event. Stanford now heads east for next weekend’s dual face-off against Boston University.

A womans lacrosse player runs along the field with possession of the ball
Redshirt sophomore attacker Ashley Humphrey during a game against USC at Cagan Stadium on April 2, 2023. Humphrey dominated Cal in Stanford’s last game of the regular season, scoring 7 points. (Photo: JOHN LOZANO/ISI Photos)

Lacrosse secured the two-seed in the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament by handily defeating Cal on Friday to close out regular season play. The Bears failed to contain redshirt sophomore attacker Ashley Humphrey, who scored seven goals for Stanford along the way to a comfortable 18-8 win. The Cardinal will next cross the bay for their conference tournament, beginning on May 3 in Berkeley. 

No. 23 men’s tennis opened postseason play in Ojai, Calif. with a 4-2 win over rival Cal on Thursday in the opening round of the Pac-12 Championships. Stanford then fell 2-4 to No. 10 USC. Though the Cardinal took the doubles point, the Trojans gained the upper hand and dual match victory in singles. Stanford’s postseason prospects now come down to Monday’s NCAA Tournament selection show.

Saturday saw the final races of the regular season for No. 9 men’s rowing, as No. 1 Cal handed the varsity eight its first loss of 2023 by 4.3 seconds. The second varsity eight had even harder time, with the Bears outpacing them to the finish by over 20 seconds. The Cardinal will now join the women’s team in preparing for the Pac-12 Championships scheduled to be held in two weeks on Oregon’s Dexter Lake. 

Three sprinters run along the track during a race
Sophomore Maya Valmon competes at the Stanford Invitational on April 1, 2023. It was a historic week for Valmon, who set new school records as an individual runner in the 400 meters and as part of a foursome in the distance medley relay. (Photo: JOHN LOZANO/ISI Photos)

Track and Field made a triumphant return to the Penn Relays, the team’s first appearance at the event since 2017, as graduate student Melissa Tanaka, sophomore Maya Valmon and freshmen Roisin Willis and Juliette Whittaker set a new school outdoor record in the distance medley relay on their way to victory in 10:50.56. And though Stanford lost the Big Meet to Cal on Saturday, Valmon continued to carve her place in the history books with a new school and track record in the 400 meters. The Cardinal has a fortnight to prepare for the Pac-12 Championships beginning May 12.

No. 8 softball hit the road, besting Fresno State 7-3 on Wednesday before traveling to the desert for a three-game weekend series of its own against Arizona State. Stanford blazed through the Sun Devils in each of the three matchups, including a dominant 8-1 win on Saturday, which boasted home runs from junior Aly Kaneshiro and sophomore Kylie Chung. The Cardinal will return home for two non-conference games against Sacramento State on May 3.

Madeline Grabb '25 is a senior staff writer from Sagaponack, New York who previously served as Sports Managing Editor for Vol. 263. She is studying communication and history. Contact her at sports 'at' Boone is the managing editor for the sports section. He is a junior from Virginia Beach, Virginia, studying communication. When not chasing after rebounds in Maples Pavilion or recording a podcast with Jibriel Taha, you can find him at TAP or watching his favorite Premier League team, Tottenham Hotspur, play. Contact him at eboone24 'at'

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