December Stanford sports roundup

Since our November update, the final four fall sports seasons have wrapped up, with a national title to show for it. Now, winter's underway. Both basketball squads are looking good, as are some star runners, swimmers and divers.

Housekeeping: Have to draw the line somewhere, so we're looking at Directors' Cup sports only. We're also looking at in-season sports only, so no alumni softball games, at least not until spring.

Fall recaps

Men's cross country - The No. 5 men finished, appropriately enough, fifth at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. Senior Chris Derrick took second, tying Ryan Hall (2003) and Nef Araia (2006) for the best-ever finish by a Stanford man. Jacob Riley also earned All-American honors by finishing 18th, while Stanford's remaining scorers finished 55th, 66th and 127th. Stanford finished just four points behind No. 4 BYU in the team's third top-five finish in four years. Though Derrick leaves, the majority of the squad does return next year. Wisconsin, Oklahoma State and Colorado won, placed and showed, respectively.

Women's cross country - Like the men, the women performed approximately to seed, entering Terre Haute at No. 13, and finishing the meet 10th. The Pac-12 showed well, with the conference taking four of the top-11 spots. Washington, who finished runners-up by just eight points to champion Georgetown, paced the Best Coast's conference. Kathy Kroeger and Stephanie Marcy finished 21st and 32nd respectively to become the first Stanford women named All-Americans since Arianna Lambie, Lauren Centrowitz and Katie Harrington made the cut in the 2007 national title season.

Women's soccer - Yes! After finishing national runners-up the last two seasons, the women beat Duke 1-0 for the national title in the thriving metropolis that is Kennesaw, Ga. Defense won this championship, as the women allowed just one goal in their six NCAA Tournament games, and allowed more than one goal just one game all season (an easy 5-2 win over Pacific). Teresa Noyola's 53rd minute header was the NCAA Championship's lone score, as Stanford finished 25-0-1 this season and 94-4- 4 over the last four years. The midfielder Noyola, defender Camille Levin, and forward Lindsay Taylor, all seniors, were First Team All-Americans, while sophomore goalie Emily Oliver made the third team. It was the end of an era for a team paced by its 2012 class, and the women went out with a bang.

Men's water polo - Stanford lost 8-6 to USC in the MPSF semifinals, and 8-7 to California in the third-place game to bring a disappointing season to a close. The men finished 19-7 overall and 5-3 in the conference, a clear step behind their traditional rivals Cal, USC and UCLA.

Winter sports – early updates and overviews

Men's basketball - The men are 10-2 heading into Pac-12 play, and it was nearly better yet. The two losses were by a combined 11 points to traditional power Syracuse and 2011 NCAA runners-up Butler. Believe it or not, this young team is a legit contender for the conference title, with only No. 17 Cal joining the No. 29 Card as Pac-12 teams in Ken Pomeroy's Top 40. Of course, the flipside is that with the league so weak, there's little room for error, as losses are going to damage the RPI in a hurry. The Pac-12's looking like a two-bid league, so it's on Dawkins and the Cardinal to make the cut.

Women's basketball - There have been two headline games: a 68-58 loss at Connecticut and, on Dec. 20, a 97-80 win over Tennessee, paced by Nnemkadi Ogwumike's 42 points. Now it's Pac-12 regular season time for the No. 4 Card. Anything less than a conference title would be a disappointment, but the real season, as always under Tara, will begin in March.

Fencing - Fencing flies under the radar on the Farm, but the Card took 10th at last year's NCAA Championships in this co-ed winter sport. The team has yet to compete, but will do so at an invitational apiece in January and February. March's NCAA Regionals and Championships cap a compact season.

Gymnastics - The men, defending national champions, start at Cal on Jan. 13. The women, meanwhile, are slated for fourth in a stacked Pac-12, and their season starts that same weekend in a quad meet. National championships are the weekend of April 20.

Swimming - The team season has yet to start up in earnest, so superlative individual performances have stood out the most thus far. For the men, divers Kristian Ipsen, Dhruv Tyagi and Taylor Sishc have starred. In the lanes, David Nolan highlights an impressive freshman class, and is already beginning to rewrite the Stanford record book just months into the pool. For the women, Cassidy Krug won the winter national title in the three-meter drive, while Maya DiRado and Sam Woodward have won individual events as well.

Indoor track and field - The men and women launched their seasons on Dec. 5 at a Boise State-hosted event. No word on whether the track is blue. On the women's side, Katerina Stefanidi won the pole vault, Karynn Dunn took the long jump and, in winning the triple jump, Jordan Merback did recent Stanford great Erica McLain proud. For the men, freshman Dartis Willis III lived up to his considerable hype, leaping 6-10 ¾ to easily win the high jump. The teams next compete in Seattle on Jan. 14.

Wrestling - About halfway through the regular season, the grapplers are 4-4 in dual meets. In early invitationals, the men have posted similar results – respectable but not much more – but with just one senior on the squad, a rebuilding season is to be expected.

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