By Jana Persky
The Stanford track and field team sent 35 athletes to Austin, Texas for the NCAA West Preliminary round last weekend, and just over a third of them will continue on to the NCAA Championships on June 5-8 in Eugene, Ore. The meet was plagued by weather issues that continually delayed competition, but ultimately nine Cardinal women and three men earned top-12 finishes and a subsequent berth at nationals.
Stanford brought the largest group of women to regionals with 22 competitors overall. Nine of those athletes qualified for nationals, led by junior Kori Carter who will compete in three different events in Eugene.
The junior, who currently owns the third-fastest 400-meter hurdle time (54.21) in the world this year, won the 400-meter hurdle race with a time of 54.50. Carter also took seventh place in the 100-meter hurdles (13.16) and anchored the 4×400 relay team, which captured eighth place overall.
The relay group, which included seniors Justine Fedronic and Carissa Levingston and freshman Amy Weissenbach turned in the fastest time (3:32.65) since 2005 for a Stanford 4×400.
Both Fedronic and Weissenbach earned an individual spot at the NCAA Championships in the 800-meter race, one of the Cardinal’s strongest events.
Fedronic, a two-time All-American, finished second overall (2:04.5) after winning her heat, while Weissenbach was fifth overall (2:04.97). Freshman Claudia Saunders set a personal record (2:06.96) in the event and advanced to the final round, but finished out of the running for a spot at nationals.
In the javelin, Brianna Bain performed up to expectations by capturing the top spot with a throw of 175-10. The sophomore is the reigning Pac-12 champion in the event and will be looking to improve on her runner-up finish at nationals last year.
Senior Alyssa Wisdom was able to extend her career by just the slimmest of margins after earning the 12th and final qualifying spot in the shot put (53-1). Wisdom was originally a sprinter when she arrived at Stanford but was forced to switch to shot because of health reasons. The senior advanced to the 2013 NCAA indoor championships — where she failed to register a legal throw — but has never previously competed in NCAA outdoor nationals.
Fellow senior Karynn Dunn also made the most of what could have been the final competition of her career by qualifying for the NCAA championships in the long jump. Dunn, a two-time first team All-American, jumped 20-7 1/4 to take seventh place.
The other two Cardinal women who advanced to the championships did so in the 5,000-meter race. Sophomore Aisling Cuffe (16:15.53) and junior Jessica Tonn (16:21.21) took sixth and eighth place respectively to give Stanford a formidable duo in the event at nationals.
The men’s team was less successful, with just three athletes earning a trip to Eugene.
In the 1,500-meter race, only half of the Cardinal’s 1-2 punch made it through qualification. Senior Tyler Stutzman finished eighth overall in the event with a time of 3:49.8, but teammate Michael Atchoo failed to qualify.
Atchoo, a junior, had been ranked the No. 3 collegian in the event coming into the meet, but ended up 12th in his heat with a time of 3:50.38, more than 10 seconds off his personal record.
Also disappointed were seniors Jules Sharpe and Geoffrey Tabor. Both athletes have previously won All-American honors but ended their careers in regionals this year. In the high jump, Sharpe took 17th with a jump of 6-11 1/2 while Tabor took 20th in the discus (175-11) and 37th in the shot put (53-3 3/4).
Junior Erik Olson claimed his first career berth in NCAA championships by earning 12th place overall in the 5,000-meter race (13:53.68).
Freshman Steven Solomon will round out the men’s contingent in Eugene after taking 10th place in the 400-meter race (46.59). Solomon reached the final in the 400 meters at the 2012 Olympics, where he competed for Australia, but has struggled with injury at Stanford. Nationals will be just his fourth competition this season.
At nationals, all athletes will earn all-American status if they legally compete in their respective events. The Championships will begin on June 5 in Eugene, Ore.
Contact Jana Persky at jpersky ‘at’ stanford.edu.