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Cross country looks to use strong start, returning core in upcoming meets

Stanford Men's and Women's Cross Country has big ambitions this season, with a strong core of returning athletes and excellent results to start the season (DAVID ELKINSON/stanfordphoto.com)

Stanford’s men’s and women’s cross country teams have started strong this season with sensational top-3 finishes in all invitationals thus far as well as top 5 rankings for both teams.

Stanford Men's and Women's Cross Country has big ambitions this season, with a strong core of returning athletes and excellent results to start the season (DAVID ELKINSON/stanfordphoto.com)
The Stanford men’s and women’s cross country teams have big ambitions this season. The squad returns a strong core of athletes — including junior Sean McGorty (above) — and has achieved excellent results to start the fall, with top-3 finishes in all of its first few meets. (DAVID ELKINSON/stanfordphoto.com)

Although ranked as high as 2nd earlier in the year, the men are currently ranked 4th by the USTFCCCA and are expected to seriously contend for a national championship this year. The team is coming off of a 2nd place finish at last year’s NCAA Championships and is bringing back a formidable group of returners. 

The men’s team is particularly threatening because of its depth. Led by four All-Americans in junior Sean McGorty, fifth-year senior Jim Rosa, fifth-year senior Joe Rosa, and junior Sam Wharton, the men’s squad has finished 2nd at the Fresno State Invitational, 1st at the Stanford Invite, and most recently 2nd at the Washington Invitational, even though the whole varsity team has yet to run as a whole.

While McGorty and freshman Grant Fisher earned the top-two spots in the Stanford Invitational in late September, Joe Rosa, who sat out of the 2015 track season with an injury, ran a 23:20.6 and came in 2nd behind Oregon’s Edward Cheserek during the team’s last meet in Seattle.

The men will be racing at Wisconsin this Friday against a pretty stacked field, so the race should be pose as a good indicator of the caliber of the team and the overall health of the squad. However, the stakes will truly be raised come November, when both cross country teams compete at the NCAA Regionals and Championships.

On the other side, the women’s team has been performing very well thus far and are currently ranked 9th in the latest USTFCCCA Rankings. The Cardinal have been seen as a building team, with strong young talent, and are improving with every race with the goal of peaking on Oct. 30 and in November for the Pac-12 Championships and NCAA’s.

However, the biggest news for the women’s team is the return of fifth-year senior Aisling Cuffe, a strong veteran who finished 4th at NCAA’s two years back. Cuffe was out the entire last season due to injury, so she will be a major addition to the team. In her first official race back less than two weeks ago, she won the Washington Invitational with a time of 19:41.0.

In recent meets, the women’s team won at the Stanford Invite and did well at the Washington Invitational, finishing 3rd behind Oregon and Washington. The women’s team is running this Saturday at the Pre-National Invitational in Kentucky, which will provide a strong test for the team as it looks to improve from its most-recent third place finish.

Contact Kyle D’Souza at kvdsouza ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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