In a result that surprised very few, the men’s and women’s cross country teams both won the team races at the Stanford Invitational last weekend, setting the tone for what each hopes is a return to the podium at the NCAA Championships in November.
The women’s side was simply dominant, scoring just 25 points and beating second-place Adams State by more than 100 points on a warm day at the Stanford Golf Course. Senior Kathy Kroeger added to her already impressive collegiate resume with her third straight Stanford Invitational crown as the top individual, covering the six-km course in 20:13–she now has three of the six fastest times in school history on the course.
“It was great,” Kroeger said. “I had a lot of fun. Coach [Chris Miltenberg] had us working together with our teammates during the early part of the race, which was a really great start. It was nice to run with teammates, be on the home course opening up the season and I’m glad I could help the team.”
Kroeger definitely helped the team, but the No. 7 Cardinal had plenty of help up and down the lineup. Cayla Hatton ran her first collegiate race and the highly touted freshman from Andover, Mass., did not disappoint, finishing second, just eight seconds behind Kroger.
“It was a great race, went out really controlled, which is what we were trying to do,” Hatton said, “and I’m just really excited to have my first college race under my belt. I didn’t really expect any sort of place in this meet, because I didn’t know anything about the meet before this, so obviously I’m pleased with second place.”
Hatton is the second-fastest American prep runner all-time in both the 5 km and 10 km, and finished fourth at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, the highest finish ever for an American in the event.
But she is merely a piece in one Stanford’s strongest recruiting classes in years. After sophomore Aisling Cuffe and junior Jessica Tonn crossed the line in fourth and fifth place, respectively, Hatton’s classmates Megan Lacy and Rebecca Mehra both broke the tape inside the top 20–Lacy finished in 17th and Mehra just ahead of her in 13th.
If the young runners can continue to perform down the line in higher-pressure meets, the Cardinal should definitely be a team to watch at the NCAA Championships.
While the men’s team wasn’t quite as dominant–Division II power Adams State finished just six points behind Stanford for the team title–the solid showing of sophomore twins Joe and Jim Rosa coupled with nice performances from redshirt seniors Benjamin Johnson and Miles Unterreiner left the Cardinal feeling good about its season outlook.
Joe Rosa, who led the team with a third-place finish, was pleased with the result especially having a difficult year last season. “I was hoping to keep the individual title in the Stanford team,” he said, “and I came up a little bit short, but you know everything we do in the season is working towards getting better at the end so hopefully the next couple meets I’ll have a little stronger finish and have my best result at nationals.”
“This year is kind of a rebound year for me; last year was pretty disappointing. This year I feel so much more confident and I think when I get into a big race I’ll be more ready than I was last year,” he said.
Running together for about the first five km of the race, Stanford had nine runners inside the first 30, with Unterreiner in fourth, Johnson in sixth, Jim Rosa in ninth and freshman Thomas Graham in 14th.
If Rosa and Johnson can stay healthy after injuries plagued them last season, the Cardinal stands a good chance to return to Terre Haute, Ind., for the NCAA Championships and at least a shot at upsetting No. 1 Wisconsin or No. 2 Oklahoma State for what has been the elusive NCAA team title.
Stanford is out of action until Oct. 12, when it heads to Madison for the prestigious Wisconsin Invitational.