When Stanford’s track and field squads head to the University of Washington this weekend for the MPSF Indoor Championships, the individual goals of the different athletes will vary depending on where they stand with respect to the nation’s leading times. While some will be striving to continue to improve and potentially set new personal records, others will be trying to make the push into the top 16 in the nation in their events in order to qualify for the upcoming NCAA Indoor Championships. And the others that are already in the top 16 of their events will simply aim to race a solid meet, score points for the team and solidify their times.
In order to do so, however, they will need to excel in a tough field of 12 men’s teams and 17 women’s teams that will be represented in Seattle, including the Arizona State men, who are the reigning back-to-back champions of this meet, and the No. 1 Oregon women, who will be looking to take home their fourth title at this meet in the last five seasons.
The Cardinal men will be led by senior Michael Atchoo, who set the meet record in the mile last year with his time of 3:57.14. Atchoo will compete in the 3,000 meters and in the distance medley relay, in which he, senior Marco Berlototti, sophomore Steven Solomon and junior Luke Lefebure recorded the nation’s fourth-best time this season (9:28.95) during the Penn State National Invitational last month.
Solomon, a finalist in the 400 meters at the 2012 London Olympics, will look to secure his bid to the NCAAs in both the 400 meters and the 4×400 meter relay. His 400 time of 46.42 is currently tied for 13th in the nation.
Senior Erik Olson is already in good position to make the NCAAs heading into this weekend, as his recent time of 13:42.56 in the 5,000 meters at the UW Husky Classic two weeks ago is currently sixth in the nation. Because runners are ideally peaking at this point in the season with the NCAAs drawing near, Olson will look to run another solid time in the 5000 at the MPSFs to secure that bid.
In the field, freshman Dylan Duvio will be looking to make a big impact in the pole vault after already having asserted himself as one of the premier rising athletes in the event. He has set multiple personal bests in the event already this season and displayed a steady improvement, and he currently owns the third-best all-time indoor Stanford vault with his vault of 5.32 meters at the Don Kirby Invite two weeks ago.
Although the men’s squad lacks the depth to finish in a top position as a team at the MPSF meet, it will still look to qualify several individuals and the distance medley relay squad for the NCAAs in two weeks.
On the women’s side, the Cardinal is primed to both finish in a strong position as a team and also send several of its most consistent performers to the NCAAs. Stanford currently has three female middle-distance runners with top-10 times nationally in the 800 meters: fifth-year senior Justine Fedronic, sophomore Claudia Saunders and sophomore Amy Weissenbach. As they run the 800 at the MPSFs this weekend, they will already be in good position to qualify for nationals but will still look to solidify that status against a strong field that will also be peaking at about this time.
Both Fedronic and Weissenbach broke the previous school record in the 800 during the Penn State National Invitational at the end of January with their times of 2:03.25 and 2:05.50. Saunders joined the club at the UW Husky Classic two weeks ago, when her time of 2:05.07 also beat the previous school record of 2:05.56. Fedronic’s time is currently second in the country, putting her in great position to qualify for NCAAs after not having competed indoors last season.
Sophomore sprinter Kristyn Williams has also excelled this season and broke the all-time Stanford indoor record in the 400 meters in her first meet this season with her time of 53.39. Although that time is just 26th in the country so far this year, she has very strong potential to improve upon that time, as evidenced by her 52.7 split over the 400-meter leg of the school record-setting distance medley relay at the Penn State National in late January.
On the shot put, fifth-year senior Alyssa Wisdom will be looking to qualify for her second consecutive indoor NCAAs after she placed fourth at the MPSFs last season with a personal best of 16.97 meters.
The MPSF Championships will begin on Friday and will last until early Saturday afternoon in Seattle, with numerous NCAA qualifiers likely to be decided during the meet.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu.