The might of Stanford’s indoor track and field team will converge at the University of Washington’s Dempsey Indoor Center this weekend for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Championships.
Athletes from across the west coast will compete for a chance to advance to the NCAA Championships March 8-9 in Birmingham, AL. The top 16 individuals and 12 relay teams from across the country in each event will be invited to the championships.
While team standings are not necessarily important for qualifying for the big stage, they are indicative of the competitive nature of the sport. The men are ranked 15th in the nation and third in the MPSF, trailing No. 12 Southern California (second in MPSF) and No. 10 Oregon (first in MPSF).
The Cardinal men are led by veterans Grant Fisher and Harrison Williams. Fisher, a nine-time All-American, enters this weekend’s festivities coming off a stunning finish at the Millrose Games in New York, where he set the American collegiate record in the 3,000 meters (7:42.62) after edging Wisconsin’s Morgan McDonald, who outstepped Fisher back in November at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Fisher currently holds the fastest 3,000 meters time in the country, qualifying him for the NCAA Championships in that event. The senior is slated to run the mile tomorrow and anchor the men’s distance medley relay (DMR) team, which currently sits on the bubble for qualifying for nations in twelfth place (9:29.35) in the country, tonight at 7:55 p.m. PST.
Senior Alex Ostberg, who made history after breaking the four-minute barrier earlier this season with a personal best time of 3:59.31, ranks 19th in the country in the mile. Despite his record-breaking performance, Ostberg will not be competing in the mile. Rather, he is scheduled to race in Saturday’s 3,000 meters, an event in which he ranks ninth, and the DMR with Fisher, junior Isaac Cortes and sophomore Louis Stenmark.
Fifth-year Harrison Williams leads the NCAA in the heptathlon and will therefore forego competition this weekend and prepare for the NCAA Championships in March. The senior posted a score of 5,961 at the Husker Invitational two weeks ago that was only nine points short of the school record he set two years ago. If he competed this weekend, he would likely break the MPSF heptathlon record (5,784) set by former Cardinal Josh Hustedt in 2008.
The Cardinal women sit in 44th in the country and sixth in the MPSF. Fifth-year Abbie McNulty sits on the bubble in the 3,000 meters (9:05.66). Sophomore Jess Lawson sits in 25th (9:09.88). Both of them, as well as junior Fiona O’Keeffe and sophomore Jordan Oakes, will get another shot at the distance come Saturday afternoon.
O’Keeffe ranks 13th (15:35.77) in the country in the 5,000 meters, followed closely by McNulty in 16th (15:42.12). Neither will be competing in the event this weekend as they strategically focus on other events.
The women’s DMR team sits 14th in the country after the Cardinal set a season best (11:04.30) last weekend at the Alex Wilson Invitational. Sophomores Julia Heymach, Ashlan Best and Carolyn Wilson and junior Ella Donaghu will represent the Cardinal in the event slated for 7:30 p.m. tonight.
In the field events, senior Kaitlyn Merritt sits in 20th (4.25 meters) in the pole vault, while veteran Lena Giger has thrown the shot 17.30 meters for seventh best in the country, which will likely send her to Alabama. Merritt will hit the field today at 2 p.m., while Giger is scheduled to compete tomorrow at 10:30 a.m PST.
With the deadline to qualify for the NCAA Championships set for Sunday, this weekend’s two-day conference championship will offer the Cardinal one last chance to book a ticket to the South.
Contact Alejandro Salinas at asalinas ‘at’ stanford.edu.