Stanford Athletes Look to the 2008 Olympics

For Track & Field fans, Christmas comes every four years with the Olympics. We close our eyes to politics, to doping, and do our dope... hmm, that word again... our dope sheets on who will make the various National teams and who will win a prized Metal in 2008.

Before we review the Stanford athletes, past and current, with Olympic aspirations, let me give you an overview of the upcoming season. And that season is here, with the first three Indoor Track meets completed. The Indoor season culminates with the NCAA Indoors the weekend of March 14. Then the College Outdoor Season begins, with sadly, only two home meets. The Big Meet will be at Cal, the Pac-10 at Tempe and the Western Regional at Northridge. Then it gets really hot in June with the NCAAs in Des Moines and the Nationals in Columbus, Ohio. In late June, the Olympic Trials are in Eugene, Ore.

July and August have International meets leading to the Olympics the second week of August. A very long season, and we'll surely see some college athletes skip meets or redshirt as they need to peak for the Olympic Trials.

Our first Stanford Olympian is Ryan Hall in the Marathon. He easily won the first and only thus far, Olympic Trial. Hall also had the 12th fastest 10K time last year, and was faster than that in 2006. However, most are pretty sure he will not be competing for a berth in the 10K. He is young and has outstanding Mile speed; big things are hoped for in Beijing, in the Marathon.

Continuing with the Men, the next most likely Olympian would be Pole Vaulter Toby Stevenson, a former Olympian. Last year, he was the ninth-ranked American at 18-8 ¼. But he has done 19 feet in the past, and is very experienced. Last year, 5 Americans vaulted between 19-0 and 19-6 which led the World.

Michael Robertson just graduated from Stanford, but this young Discus thrower was the third-ranked American with a Stanford-record 210-1. It'll be interesting to see how Robertson does this season and if he hooks up with former Stanford Throws Coach, Robert Weir.

We have five outstanding distances runners who have a chance at an Olympic slot, and two are still students. It's hard to pick who among them is most likely. The students are Russell Brown and Garrett Heath. However, Ian Dobson in the 5K or maybe even the 10K might have the best shot of these five athletes. Dobson was the 14th fastest American 1500, at 3:39.62, about a 3:57 Mile. In the seldom run 3K, he was 10th, right behind Alan Webb. In the 5K, Dobson was the 6th fastest, at 13:18.87. Ranked ninth overall in the 5K by T&F News, he was only 7 seconds behind the #2 American. The 10K is pretty wide open though, and Dobson may attempt to qualify there.

Right with him is Jonathon Riley. Riley will be fighting for a 5K spot where he was the eighth fastest American last year at 13:19.92. However, he was ranked the # 5 American by T&F News. He was also just two seconds behind Dobson in the 3K, and ran a 3:40.85, 1500 race, which demonstrates his speed.

Fifth-year senior Russell Brown will be a strong contender at 1500m. He was the seventh-ranked American with the 10th fastest time, 3:37.56. He also showed his speed with a 1:47.96 800m. Brown has a tremendous kick - if he can be close with 100m to go, he'll be someone to watch.

Current student Garrett Heath is right behind Brown with a 3:39.96, the 17th fastest American.

And finally, it's always a pleasure to mention Gabe Jennings, America's #13 1500m runner last year. Jennings was one of the most popular athletes ever at Stanford, and made the Olympics while still a student in 2000. Never count him out.

Three other athletes may well be at the Trials, current students Graham Hoste and Josh Hustedt, and graduate Nick Welihozkiy. Hoste placed high at the NCAAs in the PV and has a best of just over 18'. Hustedt is probably four years away, but shows great potential in the Decathlon. Welihozkiy was our # 21 Hammer Thrower last year.

On the Women's side, we have one American leader and many who will challenge for spots. Jill Camarena was the #1-rated Shot Putter last year and had the top distance of 62-1. Ironically, right behind her is former Stanford Football Trainer, and Cal grad, Kristin Heaston. Both Camarena and Heaston are the favorites for two of the three spots on the Olympic team.

Stanford senior Erica McLain is the #3-rated US Triple Jumper at 46-5 ¼, one foot off the American record. McLain was ranked #3, but had the longest jump by an American last year. In the Long Jump, she was unranked, but her best, a wind-aided 21-5 ¼ would have been top 10 if legal.

Lauren Fleshman is a very strong contender in the 5K. Her best last season was 15:02.28. She was the #6-ranked American in the 5K last year, #4 in the 3K and #6 in the 1500. Fleshman actually had the second fastest time by an American in the 1500, 4:05.62, less than a tenth out of first. In the 5K, she was the fifth fastest, 18 seconds behind the leader. She probably leans toward the 5K, but decisions will be made as to what race she will attempt to qualify in as other runners make their decisions.

Malindi Elmore is a Stanford graduate and a Canadian. She has been one of the top 1500 runners in the world for several years, and last year had a best of 4:05.65, right behind Fleshman, and the top Canadian.

Sara Hall, the former Sara Bei, now married to Ryan Hall, has options in both the 1500 and 5K, like Fleshman. Sara Hall was not ranked in the top 10 but did run 4:08.99, the 11th fastest. At 5K, she was ranked 10th with the ninth fastest time, 15:22.56. And she had the 12th fastest 3K among Americans. Like Fleshman, she will have to decide between the 1500 and 5K.

Arianna Lambie is finishing her Stanford career this quarter with Indoor Track, while in graduate school. A many-time All American in Track and Cross Country, her best event for this year is like Hall's and Fleshman's, either the 1500 or the 5K. In the 1500, she had the 19th fastest time, but that's still only 7 seconds behind the fastest. In the 5K, Lambie ranked ninth with the 14th fastest time. Her bests are 4:12.29 and 15:31.34.

Alicia Craig is attempting a comeback and came back last year to finish fourth in the 10K at the Nationals and be ranked fifth overall. Her best for 10K was 32:50.63, 11th best by an American. Here, it is a case of who runs the 5K and who runs the marathon.

Two current students could be at the Trials - Teresa McWalters and Lindsay Allen. Allen is a Steeplechaser with a best of 10:01.53, the 16th fastest American. McWalters was the #37 American at 15:53.89, and shows 10K ability, winning the Pac-10. McWalters wouldn't have to improve a lot to be top 15 in either the 5K or 10K.

Chauntae Bayne was a Stanford student who transferred to Texas. She has now graduated and looks for a berth in the 100 and/or 200. Her bests are 11.24, #20 in the 100, and 22.95, #22 in the 200. Freshman Shataya Hendricks had the 27th fastest time last year, 11.30.

Stanford graduate Summer Pierson has made a rapid rise in the Discus to become the fourth-ranked thrower with the eighth best distance, 187-2. She will need to throw over 200, but she improves every year.

Sarah Hopping had the 13th longest Hammer Throw, 213-11. Dani Maier, a current student had the #28 Javelin Throw, 160-11. Another current student, Griffin Matthew had the #38 Long Jump, 20-6 ½.

If you are lucky enough to be able to attend the Olympic Trials in Eugene, or watch it on TV from your home, keep in mind how many current Stanford students and graduates are fighting for Olympic berths. It will be exciting times.

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