Stanford Track & Field at the Olympic Trials

The Track & Field Olympic Trials begin this Friday in Eugene, Ore. Bob Kinder looks at current Stanford athletes, Stanford alums, and those with Stanford connections as they aim for the ultimate in their sport, the Olympic Games.

We start with recently graduated triple jumper Erica McLain. At the NCAAs, Erica jumped a wind-aided 47-11.  This is six inches better than the American record, and nearly 18 inches better than McLain's college record.  She is ready, she is primed, she is right now America's top triple jumper and has the Olympic A Standard.   I'm a fan, and I get carried away, but McLain has a great chance to represent us in China. McLain is also one of our best long jumpers, but I doubt she will be in that event, although she has entered.

Now that we've started our analysis, there the standards to consider.   There are two Qualifying Standards for both the Trials and the Olympics, the A and the B.  The A's are seeded into the trials, the B's, and many I will write about have only the B Standard, will get in only if there is room for them. They are not all guaranteed. Marks made last year count.

In the trials, the top three finishers go to the Olympics if they have the Olympic A Standard. If they don't, well, that's another subject. However, one thing is very different from past Olympics: once an athlete finishes his event at the Trials, and does not have an A Standard, he/she is done.  Unlike past years, they cannot "chase" the A Standard. 

With all that in mind, next up is Stanford grad Lauren Fleshman.   Lauren is our top 5K runner, 14:58 this year, and one of our top 1500 runners at 4:09.  She has trained long and hard for the 5K and is a favorite to make the team, picked second by T&F News. Lauren also has achieved the A Olympic Standard. 

Also in the 5K is recent Stanford grad Ari Lambie.     Lambie is fourth among Americans this season, and her best of 15:19 puts her 10 seconds short of the Olympic A Standard.   However in the Standards window, that is, since January 2007, she has the eighth-best time, which is important because with seven ahead of her, the race will probably be fast enough to insure the top three met the A Standard.  Ari is picked sixth by T&F News.  She has also run a fine 4:12, 1500. 

Recent grad Teresa McWalters is also a pending entry in the 5K.  Her best is 15:50, which makes her a long shot.     However, Teresa is as fierce a competitor as you can imagine, and I suspect she be in the race for quite a while, if she gets in.  

Lindsay Allen in is the steeplechase, with a best this year of 10:05.   The A Standard is 9:46.  That's within reach, and Lindsay is the school record holder at 10:01.   However I suspect it will take 9:35 or better to make the team. 

In the 1500, Sara Bei Hall is entered with a best of 4:09.   She has not looked great recently, but many distance runners run for experience and training until the Trials.   It's uphill for Sara as it may take a sub-4:04 to make the team. 

Frosh Alex Gits is a pending entry in the 10K.  Not entered is former Stanford runner and college record holder Alica Craig Shay.   

In the 1500, Lauren Centrowitz and Alicia Follmar are open entries, or on a list after the pending runners. 

Chryste Gaines returns from a two-year suspension, and the former Stanford star and Olympian is back on track at 11.13.   The 100 will be wide open, although Gaines will be a long shot. 

Jill Camarena has been the top shot putter in America for several seasons, with a best of 63-2 indoors in 2006, 62-1 outdoors last season and 59-5 this season.   However, on the first of April, she had surgery for a herniated disc.  She's ready to complete, but lost two months rehabbing.  Because of this, T&F News picks her eighth.   She was the favorite before her operation, so here's hoping the Stanford grad can bounce back.  She does have the A Standard. 

Summer Pierson has thrown the discus 199-5, the sixth-best American effort.   She has a chance to be top three, but the Stanford grad needs to throw 200-1 to get the A standard. 

Hammer thrower Sarah Hopping Veress is another Stanford grad with a decent shot.  Her best of 223-0 is five feet short of the needed A Standard, and she is picked fourth, the hated fourth place, by T&F News. 

Stanford's Dani Maier qualified in the javelin, but is not entered and 25 feet short of the Olympic A Standard.   Also, grad Ben-Yousef just pole vaulted a PR 14-1 ½, but is not on the start list, though names could still be added. 

Joy Upshaw is our No. 2 long jumper year after year, and has coached at Stanford.

On the men's side, we have marathoner Ryan Hall already on the Olympic team, and we hope more will follow.

Pole vaulter and alum Toby Stevenson competed in the 2004 Olympics and will try to duplicate that effort.  Currently Toby is the 11th best at 18-8, and T&F News picks him eighth.  Graeme Hoste has cleared 18-1 and is ranked 14th. 

Michael Robertson is the fourth-best discus thrower and at 215 feet, has the A Standard.   He has thrown so well that T&F News picks him to finish third and make the team.   Robertson just keeps getting better and better. 

In the hammer throw are two Stanford men, grad Nick Welihozkiy at 226 feet and current weights coach Kevin McMahon at 246.  T&F News picks McMahon third, but the A Standard is 257-6, so the chances of even two Americans making the Olympics are slim.

That brings us to our eight distance runners who will be vying for a spot on the team.

Ian Dobson is entered in the 10K with a best of 28:16.  He is No. 14.  The A Standard is 27:50.  There are some excellent runners without the A standard and they will push the pace to ensure that if they are near the front, they will have met that standard.   Grad Louis Luchini is at 28:26, No. 20, and is on the pending list.

Dobson is also entered in the 5K with Jonathan Riley.  Dobson has a 13:18 best and is No. 6 and Riley at 13:19 is No. 8.   Both have met the A Standard.  There are three really outstanding Americans, with Bernard Lagat the 2007 World Champion.  Still, both Dobson and Riley have a real chance at making the team. T&F News picks Riley fourth and Dobson eighth.

We have four runners in the 1500:  grads Gabe Jennings and Grant Robison and 2008 students Garrett Heath and Russell Brown.  Don Sage dropped out Tuesday. 

Robison ran 3:37.22 and is now the 10th fastest.   Brown is right behind at No. 11, with a 3:37.56.   Jennings is 16th, 3:39.59 and Heath is 17th, 3:39.96.   Robison is the hottest time-wise, with his big 3:37 last weekend.   Heath is the hottest performance-wise, with some recent big wins.    Brown was a solid contender up until a month ago, but he was not an NCAA finalist.   Gabe is Gabe, funny running style, but an Olympian while still at Stanford.   He's found a home in Eugene.   If Brown is in great shape, and within 10 meters of the leader with 120 meters to go, he has a great kick.  But so do Webb, Lagat and Manzano, the favored three.

It's a great event and I wish I could make it this year. But I'll be posting result of Stanford athletes, so stay tuned!

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