Before I dive into the second installment of this cross country blog post, I would like to take a few lines to thank The Stanford Daily’s Managing Editor of Sports, Ashley Westhem, for giving me this forum to talk about our team. Our cross country and track and field teams do not usually receive regular coverage, so any opportunity to share our program’s story with the Stanford community is incredibly valuable. I am thankful that Ashley cares enough about all of the Cardinal’s squads, not just the high-profile ones, to give each group of athletes their well-earned recognition.
Without further ado, I will get to our first major meet of the season: this past weekend’s Stanford Invitational. Our only home event of the cross country season, Stanford Invite is an important race for us on several levels — and this go-around was no different.
Firstly, the Stanford Invite allows Coach Miltenberg to get a look at his newly-arrived freshmen. Most of these freshmen run unattached (i.e. without the Stanford jersey), to preserve their eligibility for a possible fifth year of NCAA competition. On Saturday, a couple of Class of 2018 runners’ performances stood out. For the women, Rhode Island-native Maddy Berkson delivered the top frosh performance, running 21:59 (5:54 per mile pace) over the six kilometer (3.72 miles) course.
For the men, De La Salle alum Blair Hurlock ran an outstanding first collegiate race, building his intensity throughout the eight kilometer race en route to a 22nd place showing. Harvard transfer Maksim Korolev, a fifth-year senior, also made his debut for our squad, breaking the tape alongside senior Joe Rosa. Maksim, originally from Kazakhstan, is a great guy and will be counted on heavily as we move into the heart of our cross country season.
The Stanford Invite is also a great opportunity for runners who did not attend the preseason training camp in Mammoth Lakes to show the coaching staff their improvements over the summer months. I fell into this category, as did my classmate Jack Bordoni. Jack and I have raced against each other for a long time (dating back to our California high school days), and Stanford Invite was a great rust-buster for both of us. I finished just behind Blair at 24:21, and Jack was not far behind, crossing the line at 24:30. As a walk-on, Jack has persevered through a lot of ups and downs in his first couple of seasons, and I really hope he continues to improve as we move into the fall.
Lastly, this year’s Stanford Invitational holds special significance because it is the site of the 2014 NCAA West Regional meet. This gave a lot of California teams a reason to come up to Palo Alto on Saturday and get a look at a course they will need to perform well on if they are to advance to the NCAA championships. Borderline NCAA squads like Washington State and Cal Poly-SLO, who usually do not participate in the race, brought their top runners to get a feel for our home course and its several undulations and (relatively) tight turns.
Overall, this year’s iteration of the Stanford cross country invitational was very telling for our team. We had some great runs. Emma Fisher and Molly McNamara had solid showings for the women, and Joe and Maksim proved once again that they are among the top harriers in the nation. Most importantly, the race showed all of us that we need to redouble our efforts in the toughness department.
As Coach Milt always says, “Everyone’s tough when things are going great. What matters is who’s tough when things aren’t perfect.” We will take that mindset into our next meet, the Washington Invitational, held this Saturday in Seattle.
Contact Cameron Miller at cmiller6 ‘at’ stanford.edu.