2004-05 Honor Roll: Erica McLain

The word "phenom" is tossed around casually in the sporting world, and we are as guilty as any media outlet of its overuse. But once in a while, a truly remarkable force comes upon the scene that earns every ounce of that descriptor. Erica McLain took Stanford, and the world, by storm her freshman year in the triple jump, bringing new records and new fans to her sport.

In the Summer Issue of The Bootleg Magazine, we released the 30 finalists for The Bootleg Honor Roll award for the 2004/2005 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 as their school pride, the famed “Spirit of Stanford.”

During the month of August, we will be releasing the 10 winners of this prestigious award, one by one.  We previously have recognized Tony Azevedo, Alice Barnes, Nicole Barnhart, Caroline Bruce and Gary Marshall amongst this year's winners.  Our sixth announced member of the The Bootleg's 2004-05 Honor Roll is women's track & field performer Erica McLain.

Perhaps attempting to single out one Honor Roll awardee from all the rest is intrinsically unfair.  However, even surrounded by nine of Stanford's most talented and dedicated athletes, rising sophomore Erica McLain stands out by consistently performing at a championship level.

In the winter, McLain gave Cardinal faithful a glimpse of what was to come with her second-place triple jump at the NCAA Indoor Championships, good enough for her first All-American honor.  McLain then took her jumps outdoors and, after a successful outdoor season, exploded at the Pac-10 Championships in May.  McLain's triple jump of 45-2 1/2 set an American junior record, a Stanford record, and a Pac-10 Championship record in a runaway victory.  Her long jump of 21-2 1/2 gave McLain her second Pac-10 title and marked the first time one Pac-10 athlete won both the long and triple jump conference championships.  The freshman's efforts propelled the Stanford women to their first-ever conference title, and McLain was duly rewarded, receiving recognition as USA Track & Field's Athlete of the Week and Pac-10 Track & Field's Newcomer of the Year.

McLain then took her triple jump national, finishing second at the NCAA West Regional and third at the NCAA Championships in Sacramento with a leap of 44-8 1/4.  Though Stanford still has never produced an NCAA-champion triple jumper, McLain did receive her second All-American award, Stanford's first in the triple jump since Jackie Edwards brought home the honors in 1992.

After the NCAA Championships, McLain competed at the 2005 United States Outdoor Track & Field Championships.  There, her mark of 45-11 3/4 broke her American junior record en route to her first U.S. title and earned her a berth to the World Championships in Helsinki, Finland.  Although McLain turned in a subpar performance in Helsinki, the international experience figures to help in her future athletic endeavors as a Cardinal.

McLain's freshman successes follow similarly outstanding high school performances.  At Texas' Plano East Senior High School, McLain was a three-time state champion and a two-time Nike Indoor National champion in the triple jump and a U.S. Junior National champion in the long jump.  She also excelled off the track, a two-time National Honor Roll member and a National English Merit Scholar in high school.

To top it all off, McLain is a delightfully engaging, energetic and intelligent representative of Stanford.  Pondering the possibilities of her future the next three years on The Farm, as an ambassador for Stanford and an international power in her sport, is dizzying for Cardinalmaniacs™.

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