When Stanford’s No. 13 men’s and No. 20 women’s cross country teams head to Louisville, Colo., for the Pac-12 Championships this weekend, they will be going up against some of the stiffest competition in the nation in a meet that features a field including four top-30 ranked men’s teams and six top-30 women’s teams.
Both of the No. 1 teams in the country — the Colorado men’s team and the Arizona women’s team — will be competing at the meet. Colorado’s teams already figure to have an advantage due to the thinner air at the mile-high elevation, an environment they have been training in all year but that other teams will need to adjust to.
Both of Stanford’s teams are coming off of solid performances at the Pre-Nationals meet in Terre Haute, Ind., two weeks ago, in which the men surprised many with their fourth-place finish while the women finished in ninth in a stacked field.
A significant factor in the women’s top-10 finish at Pre-Nationals was the top-five showing by both junior Aisling Cuffe (20:10.70) and senior Jessica Tonn (20:12.84) — with both finishing at a sub-5:30 mile pace — in the 6K women’s race. Neither of them has finished outside of the top five in any of the meets that Stanford has competed in so far this year.
Outside of the dynamic duo of Cuffe and Tonn, sophomores Megan Lacy, Rebecca Mehra and Cami Chapus, junior Molly McNamara and senior Tate Murray, among others, have all been consistently running solid times and will be looked at to run impactful races as the women look to improve upon their third-place finish of last year without defending Pac-12 individual champion Kathy Kroeger ’12.
For the men, who have not finished outside of the top two at the Pac-12 Championships since 1994, the talented trio of senior Erik Olson, junior Jim Rosa and impact freshman Sean McGorty will be looking to lead the team to a victory over tough Colorado and Oregon squads coming fresh off top-15 finishes at Pre-Nationals.
McGorty especially has made a huge impact in his first year with the team. After having one of the most explosive high school senior years in the nation, the freshman from North Carolina has made his presence felt immediately through twin fifth-place showings at the Stanford Invitational and Pre-Nationals.
It will be hard for any team, including Stanford, to beat the hosts. Colorado has won both Pac-12 Championship meets since entering the Pac-12 in 2011. On the individual side, the field is wide open. Lawi Lalang of Arizona has won the individual title two years in a row, but he is not expected to compete so that he can be fresh for the indoor track season.
The men’s race is scheduled to begin Saturday at 9:40 a.m. with the women’s set to follow at 10:40 a.m. Both races will be televised on Pac-12 Networks.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu.