Stanford track and field is heading to Birmingham, Alabama for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 11-12.
Fourteen Cardinal athletes – eight women and six men – will compete in seven events, the largest number of Stanford competitors since 2012.
Not only are the athletes talented – together they have a combined 33 All-American honors – but the group is comprised mostly of veterans. Senior Justin Brinkley and junior Malika Waschmann, who will compete in the men’s and women’s distance medley relay (DMR) respectively, are the only two members of the team who have not yet competed in an NCAA Championship event.
Eight of the 14 Stanford athletes in attendance will compete in the DMR, which will mark the seventh consecutive championship appearance for the men’s DMR and the fifth for the women’s.
The women’s DMR team of seniors Claudia Saunders and Kristyn Williams, sophomore Olivia Baker and junior Rebecca Mehra, was the No. 1 qualifier at the MPSF Championships with a 10:54.58. However, the lineup will change slightly for NCAA’s as Saunders and Baker will run the 800, so Waschmann and sophomore Elise Cranny will fill their places.
“This will be my fourth NCAAs, but I’ve never run the 800 indoors so I just want to make the finals and get a personal record,” said Saunders. “The track is smaller, making it more difficult to pass, so the race often depends on who gets a good quick start.”
The men’s DMR, seeded at No. 4, will keep the same lineup of junior Tom Coyle, senior Jackson Shumway, Brinkley and junior Sean McGorty. McGorty will also run the 3000.
Stanford is also sending two women to compete in the 3000 — fifth-year senior Aisling Cuffe at No. 15 and junior Vanessa Fraser at No. 13.
Fifth-year senior Darian Brooks will compete in the men’s triple jump at the No. 13 seed.
Also the No. 13 seed, sophomore Harrison Williams, who will be participating for the second time at indoor NCAAs, will compete in the men’s heptathlon.
“I love the heptathalon. There is so much variety that I never get bored,” Williams said about the event, which includes the 60 meters, long jump, shot put, high jump, 60 meter hurdles, pole vault and 1000 meters.
“Since my competition has so many events, it takes place over two days so you really get the opportunity to become close with the other athletes,” Williams added. “My goal is to break 6000, and place in the top three.”
The indoor season’s final event will begin on March 11 at noon, in Birmingham and can be viewed live online at ESPN3.
Contact Matthew Bernstein at mbernste ‘at’ stanford.edu.