By Anna Blue
The Stanford track and field squad heads to the Pac-12 Championships in Los Angeles on May 11-12 with its eyes focused on Oregon, which has won both the male and female meet in each of the past four years. Last year, the Stanford women (124 points) finished second to the Ducks, who tallied 200.5 points to win the meet. The Oregon men also won their side of the meet with 124 points, while the Cardinal men recorded 78 points to take fifth place.
The Pac-12 Championships is one of the culminating meets of the season for the team and has huge implications for the NCAA Championships in June.
“As long as we all trust in the work that we’ve been putting in for months and just focus on getting out and competing, Pac-12 is going to be a great stepping stone to the West Regional in Austin,” said freshman distance runner Justin Brinkley.
The Cardinal is coming off a strong performance last weekend in several meets. At the Payton Jordan Invitational, which attracted some of the world’s top track talent to Stanford’s campus, Cardinal runners produced three U.S. Championship ‘A’ Standards and four additions to the Stanford’s all-time top-10 lists.
Amy Weissenbach continued her spectacular freshman campaign by winning the women’s 800-meter race. Although pinned to the rail with 200 meters left, Weissenbach broke away down the stretch to post a U.S. ‘A’ standard time of 2:04.24, which was the second-best in Stanford’s history.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the course of the season, it’s always worse if I panic and try to shuffle around and waste a lot of energy with tiny moves that don’t really do much,” Weissenbach told GoStanford.com. “So I had to trust that it would start to open up, and tried to relax until I saw an opening.”
In the 1500-meter race, senior Justine Federonic took second with a time of 4:14.69, the seventh-fastest time in Stanford history.
“Justine is a phenom in practice,” Weissenbach said. “She’s awesome in training, always really aggressive. She holds me accountable, for sure. I can’t slack off in workouts.”
Junior Michael Atchoo and senior Tyler Stutzman also turned in personal records in the 1,500-meter race. In their respective 5,000-meter races, junior Jessica Tonn ran the fifth-fastest time in school history while fellow junior Erik Olson posted a U.S. ‘B’ standard time.
At other meets last weekend, Stanford added four more additions to its all-time lists. At the Triton Invitational in La Jolle, Calif., senior Alyssa Wisdom moved up to No. 3 on the women’s shot put all-time chart with a throw of 54-4 and 3/4. Freshmen men’s javelin throwers Charlie Kerr and Andrew Rondema also cracked the top-10 list while classmate Kristyn Williams posted the seventh-fastest time in history in the women’s 400.
“Not only did the performance make me more confident about my abilities and what I can contribute to Stanford track,” Williams said, “but…hopefully this accomplishment creates momentum that will carry me through the remainder of the season.”
Stanford head coach Chris Miltenburg has been pushing diversity all season, and the Cardinal will need all of its athletes to be at top-strength at the conference championship. Kerr describes the track team as a “series of working parts,” with each member contributing to team unity and success.
The biggest challenge facing the team as they head into the championship meet, emphasized by runners and coaches alike, is mental and physical fatigue. But despite the rigors of a long season, the team is confident that it will reach its peak this weekend.
“With the trajectory and growing momentum of the underclassmen performances over the past couple of weeks,” Kerr said, “I think we really are capable of going down to Los Angeles and turning some heads toward the new-and-improved Stanford track and field program.”
Contact Anna Blue at ablue ‘at’ stanford.edu.