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Track prepares for strong showing in Seattle

Stanford’s men’s and women’s track and field is sending 52 athletes to Seattle this weekend for the UW Invitational

Nine-time All-American Grant Fisher (above) headlines the Cardinal runners attending the UW Invitational. (JOHN P. LOZANO/isiphotos.com)

The Cardinal will surely have an exciting weekend as the men’s and women’s track and field team heads to Seattle in full force for the University of Washington (UW) Invitational. The two-day meet will feature Stanford’s best in the program as a majority of the team looks to make their indoor season debut.

“This team has a great combination of both youth and experience across all the event areas and will write its own chapter in our evolution,” head coach Chris Miltenberg said.

In the most recent USTFCCCA rankings released on Tuesday, the men’s team was ranked 13th, while the women came in at 17th, dropping one spot from the preseason rankings.

On the men’s team, nine-time All-American Grant Fisher will join the works of junior Isaac Cortes, three-time All-American Julian Body, and redshirt sophomore Hari Sathyamurthy in a Distance Medley Relay (DMR) team that has its eye set on qualifying for the NCAA Championships March 8-9 in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Cardinal men have qualified for the championship for the last nine years. In last year’s NCAA Championship DMR, Body ran the 400-meter leg as the team finished fourth (9:31.95). The gun goes off at 8:30 p.m. tonight for the men’s DMR.

Along with the DMR, the Portland, Oregon, native will run the 4×400 meters with sophomore Louis Stenmark, Isaiah Brandt-Sims and Gabriel Navarro. Stenmark, a native of Australia, set a school record in the 600 meters two weeks ago at the UW Indoor Preview. In last year’s indoor season, Body, Stenmark and Navarro set a school record in the indoor 4×400 meters, collectively running 3:09.38. Frank Kurtz was the fourth leg in that record-breaking performance. Saturday’s race could see a new school record for the 4×400 relay. The race goes off at 5 p.m. and will conclude the two-day meet.

Fisher, a sub-four-minute miler in high school, returns to the mile this weekend for the first time in his collegiate career. Fisher became the seventh high school student to accomplish the sub-four feat when he ran 3:59.38 as a senior in the spring of 2015. The senior from Michigan will be joined in the mile by several All-American distance runners, including graduate student Tai Dinger, fifth-year Steven Fahy, senior Alex Ostberg and junior Alek Parsons. Cortes and sophomore DJ Principe are also listed to compete in the event. The men’s mile invitational is at 4:07 p.m. on Saturday.

On the women’s team, several new faces to the collegiate DMR indoor scene will step on the track. Junior Ella Donaghu, sophomore Ashlan Best, sophomore Carolyn Wilson, and sophomore Jessica Lawson will all be making their collegiate DMR debut tonight at 8:15 p.m. The relatively young squad replaces a class of graduating seniors that included school record holders Olivia Baker (400, 53.35; 4×400, 3:33.78), Elise Cranny (Mile, 4:31.29; DMR, 10:52.02) and Vanessa Fraser (DMR, 10:52.02).

Fifth-year senior Abbie McNulty will represent the Cardinal in the 3,000 invitational on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Much like the men’s race, the women’s mile will be stacked with some of the Cardinal’s biggest contributors from the cross-country season. The likes of three-time All-American Fiona O’Keeffe, Donaghu, senior Catherine Pagano and ‘J Crew’ — comprised of sophomores Julia Heymach, Jessica Lawson and Jordan Oakes — will represent the Cardinal in the event on Saturday. The mile invitational is scheduled for 4 p.m.

In the field events, freshman Jordan Fong looks to compete in her second collegiate meet after an impressive debut showing two weeks ago. Fong threw 16.77 meters in the weight throw at the UW Indoor Preview, which is believed to be a Stanford freshman record.

Pole vaulters Kaitlyn Merritt and Erika Malaspina, who both qualified for the NCAA outdoor championships last year, will begin their 2019 this weekend. Merritt, a senior from Trabuco Canyon, California, holds the No. 2 spot in Stanford’s record book for the indoor event, jumping 4.10 meters last year. Malaspina, a junior from Santa Cruz, California, holds the No. 3 spot on the same list after clearing 4.02 meters in last year’s indoor season. Both Merritt and Malaspina cleared higher feats in their outdoor campaign, promising a strong indoor performance this season. The pole vault invitational begins at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The UW Invitational begins today at 1 p.m. and will continue through tomorrow. Live results can be found online, as well as a webcast.

 

Contact Alejandro Salinas at asalinas ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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