This week, Stanford heads to Des Moines, Iowa for the NCAA Track & Field Championships which begin Wednesday, June 11th and run through Saturday, June 14th. The Cardinal will be sending 18 athletes, who will be competing in 20 events.
Track & Field News picks the Women to finish ninth, with LSU and ASU the top two. The leading Stanford hopeful is the Cardinal's incomparable All-American Erica McLain. McLain will be one of two Stanford athletes in two events, and will challenge for the title in each. In the Triple Jump she is America's best by measure of her indoor 46-7 ¼. She is the school's outdoor record holder, 46-5, and has a best this season of 45-3 outdoors. However she is a strong possible Olympian and her training and jumping in meets has all been geared toward peaking in Eugene for the Trials. As a result, McLain's 45-3 outdoors is fourth-best in the NCAA field, about 7" behind the leader. But now the big meet is on, and look for a correspondingly big performance.
McLain is one of Stanford's two entries in the Long Jump, joining Griffin Matthew. Erica's best is 21-4, sixth-best in the field. Matthew's best is 20-5, last in the 29-person field. However Matthew is returning from an injury, and is improving rapidly. Her Personal Best is 21-2, and a repeat could move her into a scoring position. As for McLain, she will challenge for the gold.
Matthew is also in the 100, her best of 11.55 puts her last in the field of 30, with a number of outstanding sprinters more than three tenths of a second ahead of her.
Stanford has two Shot Putters entered, Melissa Yunghams and Michaela Wallerstedt. Both are JRs and this experience and the fact they have just achieved their PRs will really help them in the future. Presently Yunghams best is 53-10 and she is currently ranked # 15. Wallerstedt's best is 51-10, ranking # 27.
Jaynie Goodbody is #23 in the Hammer Throw with a best of 199-4.
Dani Maier is the school record-holder in the Javelin at 174-0 and is #7 in the field, so she has a definite chance to score. She threw once in the Regional, then passed five times, so heath may be a problem.
Lauren Stewart is # 22 in the Heptathlon with a best score of 5,440.
And now for the distance events, where Stanford expects to have a more significant impact. Lindsay Allen is #8, with a best this year of 10:06.92 and a school record last year of 10:01.53. Teresa McWalters was out until the Pac-10 meet and has lowered her 2008 best in the 5K to 16:17.30, 11th in the field. But Teresa is a winner and running her best, set last season at 15:53.89, would rank her #4 in this year's field. Expect fine performances from these two seniors, both ranking among Stanford's greatest ever.
In the 1500 we have two outstanding entries, Lauren Centrowitz and Alicia Follmar. Centrowitz's 4:16.13 is #8 and Follmar's 4:17.24 is #15 in the field. There are only three seconds separating Follmar from #5, so a pretty wide open race for points.
This leaves maybe our least-known but highest-ranked athlete, #3 in the 10K is frosh Alex Gits. The runaway winner of the Pac-10, and already an international competitor, Gits' best is an impressive 33:19.42.
This is a strong team, and the Cardinal could be anywhere between fifth and 15th, but we are loaded with quality young women and look to score well in Iowa.
Josh Hustedt will be in the Decathlon, ranked #13 in the field, with 7,465 points. Josh would have to get close to PR's in his four strongest events, the Long Jump, High Jump, High Hurdles and Pole Vault to contend for points.
Wopamo Osaisai is the Stanford school record-holder in the 100, but here he is # 24 of the 25 entries. His best on the year is 10.44, but he won the Pac-10 and was second in the Regional.
Frosh Andrew Dargie has a best in the 400 of 46.53 but is # 27 of 27 here.
Myles Bradley has set the Stanford school record twice in the High Hurdles, now at 13.78, but like Osaisai is in very fast company and ranks #-22.
The best chance for the Cardinal men to score points, and it's a good chance, is in the 1500 with Russell Brown and Garrett Heath. Heath has won the Pac-10 and the NCAA Regional and enters the NCAA ranked #9 with a best of 3:41.08. Heath's PR is 3:39.96. He has a big kick and if it is close he will be hard to hold off in the final 75m. Brown was an early favorite to win, but is now #8 with a best of 3:40.96. His PR is 3:37.56. However, Brown faded a bit in his last two races, the Pac-10 and Regional, after a big qualifying day at the Pac-10. Like Heath, he has a big kick and he hopes to bounce back. Brown has challenged the favorite, Texas All-American Leonel Manzano. both last year in the Outdoors and in this year's Indoors. This will be a great race.
18 fine Stanford athletes, hoping to score points for Stanford, and in some cases establish themselves as Olympic possibilities. It all begins this Wednesday. On your mark...