Honor Roll No. 6: Erica McLain

A sensational freshman season and gregarious personality put Texas leaper Erica McLain on Stanford fans' radar back in the 2004-05 season. Three years later, McLain ended her years at Stanford on her terms, winning two national titles in the triple jump to graduate a three-time national champion, 12-time All-American, and like many on this list, soon-to-be Olympian.


In the latest issue of The Bootleg Magazine, we released the 30 finalists for The Bootleg Honor Roll award for the 2007/2008 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 months of June and July, we are releasing the 10 winners of this prestigious award, one by one.  We have previously recognized baseball's Jason Castro, gymnastics' David Sender, swimming's Julia Smit and Paul Kornfeld and soccer's Rachel Buehler as amongst this year's winners. Our sixth announced member of The Bootleg's 2007-08 Honor Roll is track's Erica McLain.

Honor Roll Winner: Erica McLain

Performance in the clutch. It's a thin line separating our heroes from our goats, Chris Hernandez from Chris Webber, Tiger Woods from Jean Van de Velde, Adam Vinatieri from Scott Norwood. And, once again, jumper Erica McLain stakes her spot on TheBootleg's Honor Roll for clutch performance on the track.

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This past May, it was McLain's sixth and final attempt at the triple jump at the NCAA Track & Field Championships her senior year. It was her last attempt as a college athlete to capture an NCAA Outdoor title in her best event. And the senior from Plano, Tex. left no doubt.

McLain leapt 47-11, beating the field by nearly two feet and, were it not for a disqualifying tailwind, setting an American record in the process. With the Herculean jump, the Stanford women finished sixth in the nation and McLain graduated Stanford a three-time national champion. After taking fourth nationally with a personal-best long jump of 21-6.25, McLain also leaves the Farm a 12-time All-American.

McLain grabbed the second of those national titles just months earlier, helping Stanford claim fifth at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. She jumped a then-personal-best 46-7.25 to become the first Stanford female to win the same event twice indoors and just the seventh Stanford women's track athlete to win multiple national titles. At the time, McLain's distance was also the American-best for 2008.

In 2007, McLain won her first national title with a then-personal-best 45-7.75 in the triple jump at NCAA Indoors. The summer after freshman year, McLain became the U.S. Outdoor triple jump champion with an American junior record leap of 45-11.75.

Even when she wasn't winning national-level competitions, McLain managed to make quite the name for herself at Stanford. She is the only woman in Pac-10 history to win back-to-back long and triple jump titles. (And, yes, track historians, seven-time Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner Kersee went to UCLA.) McLain finished second and third in the triple and long, respectively, at NCAAs in 2007. Academically, McLain earned multiple All-Conference honors for her studies of art and communications at Stanford, with an emphasis in sports photography. (In fact, we'd chit-chat at football halftimes; she shot photos of the games for the Athletic Department. Ironically, most of press box had no idea who she was.)

But McLain's most important competition is yet to come. She was the first Stanford track athlete to qualify for the Olympics with a triple jump of 45-9.75 at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. in late June, just weeks after graduating Stanford.

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McLain, by the way, doesn't as much deserve a spot on this Honor Roll as she does embody the concept. Consider her spring, which features world-class performances competing for time, often comedically so, with the daily life of a Stanford senior.

March 15: Capture the NCAA Indoor triple jump title.
May 31: Leave NCAA West Regionals early to catch a Burbank-Oakland flight in time for senior formal. (Her coach called to let her know she had won.)
June 14: Capture the NCAA Outdoor triple jump title.
June 15: Officially graduate from Stanford. [I assume she couldn't attend.]
June 29: Qualify for the Olympic Games.
August: Compete in the Olympics.

It sounds like something out of a University ad or cheesy Hollywood script, but, right now, it's Erica McLain's life.  Congratulations to her, and TheBootleg.com wishes her all the best in China.


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