Indoor Track Review and Outdoor Track Outlook

Stanford will send nine athletes to the two-day NCAA Indoor Championships that begin Friday in College Station, Texas.

Stanford will send nine athletes to the two-day NCAA Indoor Championships that begin Friday in College Station, Texas.

Of the athletes who will compete, Stanford has two distance runners, true freshman Chris Derrick and redshirt freshman Elliott Heath. Heath has the fifth fastest 3K time, 7:53.64, nine seconds behind Oregon Olympian Galen Rupp. Derrick is #12 at 7:57.30. Derrick is also entered in the 5K where he ran a great 13:44.02 earlier, which ranks as the seventh fastest in the race. Rupp again leads, and by a lot here, with his 13:18. T & F News picks Heath sixth in the 3K and Derrick sixth in the 5K.

In the 60-meter hurdles, school record holder Myles Bradley, a junior, has the fifth fastest time at 7.73. T&F News picks Bradley fifth.

The Stanford men have a chance to score some points, but the team is young and a breakthrough will have to wait until next year.

The women have a number of distance runners entered. Senior Lauren Centrowitz is seventh in the 3K at 9:10.99; senior Alicia Follmar is 12th at 9:14.98.  Both would rank high in the mile if they entered. The big story is freshman Laurynne Chetelat at #3, with a 9:08.15 in the 3K. T&F News picks Chetelat and Centrowitz to finish third and fourth, respectively.

Stanford will also enter the #9 distance medley relay team, 11:07.53, but only 2.5 seconds behind the second-best time. T&F News picks Stanford eighth. The relay team is comprised of Follmar, 1320, senior Idara Otu, 400, freshman Maria Lattanzi (from Paly High), 800, and mile anchor, Centrowitz. I feel good about this team and think we could finish higher than expected.

The final athlete is pentathlon competitor Whitney Liehr. Liehr is a sophomore who scored 4,012 two weeks ago and is ranked #12 going into the meet.  Her 4,012 was a school record and it bodes well for Liehr's chances in this meet.  #6 is only about 100 points ahead.

Since the Indoor Meet is pretty limited for Stanford, let's look at some insights on the Outdoor season. Stanford actually had a minor outdoor meet at Cal last weekend, but the season officially opens on March 27-28 with the Stanford Invitational. This is a huge start to the outdoor season and normally is a distance fan's dream meet.

The Big Meet will be held at Stanford on April 18. Stanford has swept the last two Big Meets. Then Stanford journeys to the 100th Drake Relays, with a full squad. The fact that this is the 100th Meet is the reason for the full participation. The Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational is on May 2; the Pac-10 Multi-Events Championship is on May 9-10 followed by the main Pac-10 Championships on May 16-17. Both Pac-10 Meets are in Eugene, Oregon this year.

I recently sat down with Track & Field Head Coach Edrick Floreal to discuss the upcoming season.

Stanford is a young team with top 5 recruiting classes for both the men and the women this past year (the current freshman class) and a great recruiting class coming in for next year. Some outstanding performers graduated and were replaced by freshmen but that doesn't mean rebuilding. These are strong teams and the men might actually be stronger at the Pac-10 Meet this year than they were last year. Both men and women could be top 10 in the NCAA.

In this decade, nine seasons now, the men have finished in the top 10 five times and the women six times in the NCAA Championship Meet. The men have been top two in the Pac-10 Meet four times this decade, but they were only fifth last season. The women have been top three every year this decade, and in fact, top two the past six seasons with a championship in 2005. Hard to improve too much on the recent great performances by the women.

Stanford has added four new coaches, and this might be the most experienced staff in a few years. Jason Dunn is the Distance/Cross Country Coach, having achieved success in his eight years at Virginia prior to this season at Stanford. In Dunn's first Cross Country season at Stanford, the men were 3rd in the NCAA and the women 8th. Dunn is assisted by former outstanding Stanford steeplechaser, David Vidal, who is in his third year of coaching on The Farm.

Kris Mack returns for his sixth season coaching Pole Vault and Multi-Events.

Kyle White has joined the staff as Sprint/Hurdles/High Jump Coach. White has 15 years of coaching experience, the past 2 years at Arkansas. He competed on Arkansas' Track team with Head Coach Floreal.

Andrew Ninow is in his first year at Stanford having been a graduate assistant at UCLA and then weight coach at USF. He was a hammer thrower at UCLA. Andrew will coach the weight throws.

Erica McLain is staying on The Farm to assist with the jumpers as a volunteer assistant coach.

Head Coach Edrick Floreal is in his 11th season on The Farm. He is a 5-time NCAA triple jump winner, and a two-time Canadian Olympian.

For the Indoor Meet, Stanford is just too young, several athletes having just missed qualifying. Coach Floreal expects to be stronger in the Outdoor Championships and the growth should be exciting. Like any sport, injuries, or lack of, will determine our success.

Stanford has nearly completed construction of new stands on the west side of the Track, adding a number of rows above the existing ones. The stands have only been increased in one set, the one nearest the finish line, and the stands closer to the starting line will have to wait for a better economy. Stanford had planned to ask for the 2011 NCAA Meet, but now will not have enough seating. Bringing that meet back to Stanford remains a future goal. The plans to put a bubble roof over the stands, much like that of the Avery swimming pool, have also been shelved for now. The Track House will move under the stands and the existing Track House will become a Visitors Center. And for all the Track fans - restrooms are coming!

The hammer throw area will get a face lift, designed for safety with a bigger screen.

The just-announced recruiting class, which includes a number of top 10 high school athletes, ensures Stanford of a bright future, and Stanford may have two top 5 classes once again for both the men and the women.

Stay tuned for the next article which will discuss the athletes, starting with Sprints, Hurdles and Relays.

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