Honor Roll No. 10: Kori Carter

Stanford won the Rose Bowl for the first time in over 40 years, the Directors' Cup for the 19th straight year, and an NCAA championship for the 37th straight year. Track and field's Kori Carter was an integral part of the Cup effort.

In an April 25 article, we released the 30 finalists for The Bootleg Honor Roll award for the 2012-‘13 school-year.

The criteria are as follows:

Each academic year, The Bootleg's Honor Roll will recognize the top ten Stanford student-athletes who have performed at an exceptional level, with athletic accomplishments that are both extraordinary and inspirational. While achieving athletic success, these athletes should also have displayed uncommon leadership, sportsmanship and respect towards their fellow teammates and opponents. Finally, these honorees' performances and actions should also demonstrate their love for their particular sport as well.

We are now releasing the 10 winners of this award, one by one. Our previously announced members of the Honor Roll are baseball's Mark Appel, field hockey's Becky Dru, swimmer David Nolan, distance runner Kathy Kroeger, diver Kristian Ipsen, tennis' Nicole Gibbs, water polo's Melissa Seidemann, gymnast Eddie Penev and soccer's Alina Garciamendez. Our final announced member of The Bootleg's 2012-2013 Honor Roll is hurdler Kori Carter.

Like their brethren in the pool, track athletes put in years of grueling training, all in the hopes of dropping tenths or even hundredths of seconds off their times. Unless you're running 10Ks or swimming 1500s, shaving entire seconds is rare at the highest levels of college competition, and shedding multiple seconds is virtually unheard of. But that's precisely what Kori Carter did this June.

A hurdler, Carter had competed primarily at the 60- and 100-meter hurdles as an underclassman at Stanford. She had won multiple conference titles in these disciplines and competed at the NCAA Finals, but she had never placed in the top-10 there. All told, the performances put her en route to a standout college career, even an All-American career, but not a truly legendary one, at least at a program as storied as Stanford's.

A few small changes, though, and Carter is now nearing legendary status. In came new sprint and hurdles coach Jody Stewart, who put Carter on a plan that deemphasized speed work in favor of strength and endurance training. Carter now attacked the 400-meter hurdles with renewed focus, and the results quickly followed.

Carter ran a 53.21 in the 400 hurdles at this year's NCAA Finals. It not only won the race, but was the best time in the world this year. 53.21 would have been good for a bronze medal at the London Olympics. It was an all-time NCAA record and an all-time Stanford record. It was quite a step up from winning Pac-12 championships, and it concluded a year that saw Carter lower her personal best by an incredible 3.49 seconds.

The very next day, Carter took second in the 100-meter hurdle finals at NCAAs, losing only to a woman (Clemson's Brianna Rollins) who nearly broke Gail Devers' American record. Carter's 12.79 in these Finals was only three-hundredths of a second off her PR, so it appears she peaked at the right time, and the added strength and endurance also paid off in the 100.

An idiom common to team sports is that a particular standout athlete is "the program" or "the franchise". We heard the former plenty about Andrew Luck, for example, and now Indianapolis hears plenty of the latter. While the saying is hyperbole in Luck's case, as he is never on the field without 10 teammates, Carter can lay a better claim to the franchise tag.

With her first- and second-place finishes, Carter singlehandedly accounted for 18 of Stanford's 33 points at the NCAA Championships. Were she her own university, Carter would have tied with Texas for 14th at the NCAA Finals, six spots ahead of powerhouse UCLA.

Were it not for Carter, Stanford would have tied for 17th at the NCAA Finals. Instead, Carter and her teammates combined for sixth, a crucial distinction as the Cardinal narrowly hung on to win the Directors' Cup. The outlook may be brighter yet, as three of Stanford's four scorers at the NCAA meet -- Carter, Brianna Bain (javelin) and Amy Weissenbach (800) – return next year.

The Bootleg congratulates Carter and the nine athletes before her for another amazing year of Stanford athletics. The Cardinal won their first Rose Bowl in over 40 years, the Directors' Cup for the 19th straight year and an NCAA championship for the 37th year. Perhaps that all of those results were in question until the end is precisely what Stanford fans needed to fully appreciate how incredible this run has been.

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