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Hornet invite opens outdoor track season

Stanford sends 31 athletes to Sacramento

Senior Mackenzie Little (above), the reigning NCAA javelin champion, competes in her first meet since winning the title last year. She joins 30 other Stanford athletes at the Hornet Invitational on Friday and Saturday. (Courtesy of Stanford Athletics)

The outdoor track and field season kicks off on this Friday with the two-day Hornet Invitational at Sacramento State. Stanford will be represented by a mix of throwers, jumpers and sprinters including a number of notable veterans and freshman standouts.

While preseason polls for the outdoor season will not be released until Monday, March 18, the Cardinal enter the season with momentum after a respectful showing at the NCAA Indoor Championships, where the men’s team tied for fourth and Stanford placed third or better in five events.

None of the eight athletes that competed at the national championships last weekend will represent Stanford in Sacramento, host of the NCAA West Regionals later this season. Rather, the Cardinal will be led by a number of veterans, such as Mackenzie Little and Jenna Gray in the women’s javelin.

Last year, Little and Gray went 1-2 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon. Little secured the NCAA title with a school-record throw (60.36 meters), while Gray released the second-farthest throw (57.29 meters) in program history, good for silver at the meet. The javelin specialists led the women’s team to a third place finish, Stanford’s highest showing at the national championships. Scoring 51 points, the women’s team fell to USC (53) and Georgia (52). On the men’s side, Stanford accumulated 28 points, tying LSU for eighth.

The Cardinal embark on their 2019 outdoor campaign with several fresh faces on squad. Most notably, Liam Christensen and Keyshawn King will make their collegiate debuts for the Cardinal.

Christensen, a red shirt freshman, won the junior javelin title at the 2017 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships and finished third at the 2017 PanAm Junior Championships in Trujillo, Peru. The South Carolina native competed only once last year, winning the Cardinal Classic as an unattached competitor. His throw (67.20 meters) would have placed him fifth on Stanford’s all-time javelin performance list.

Hailing from the same state, King was named the 2018 South Carolina Gatorade boys high school track and field athlete of the year. A three-time AA state champion, King held the nation’s top-wind legal triple jump by a high school jumper last year, clearing 15.65 meters.  

King and Christensen add valuable strength to a Stanford team that graduated several NCAA podium finishers, including Sean McGorty (1st, 5000 meters) and Valarie Allman (3rd, discus).

Shot putter Sal Spina and hammer thrower Max McKhann will also make their collegiate debuts. The two freshman hail from southern California, with Spina graduating from St. John Bosco and McKhann from Dana Hills. Freshman Jordan Fong competes in the hammer throw on Friday, while classmate Allie Jones seeks strong showings in 100-meter dash and hurdles on Saturday. Both Fong and Jones competed in the indoor season and will be making their outdoor debut this weekend.

A full list of entries and live results can be found online.

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

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