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Sprint, field events highlight weekend in Fayetteville

Track and field heads east for the National Relay Championships

Senior Makenzie Little (above) leads the NCAA in the javelin after clearing for 59.47 meters at the 125th Big Meet on April 6th. Her performance tops the nation by two meters. (JOHN P. LOZANO/isiphotos.com)

A week after hosting the fourth annual Cardinal Classic, Stanford track and field heads to Fayetteville, Arkansas for the National Relay Championships Friday to Sunday. While the distance crew takes a break this week, Stanford will be represented by several of its top performers in the sprints and field events.

On the women’s side, senior Mackenzie Little returns to the javelin scene, competing for the first time since setting a meet record at the 125th Big Meet on April 6th. Little, the reigning NCAA champion in the event, returns as one of the top contenders this season. Her best this season (59.47 meters), which she set at the Big Meet, leads collegiate competition by two meters.

Little will be joined by sophomore Virginia Miller in the event, which kicks off Friday at 6:00 p.m. CDT.

Liam Christensen leads the men’s javelin crew for the Cardinal. Like Little, Christensen returns to competition since having a monstrous performance at the Big Meet. He cleared 74.78 meters to break Trever Danielson’s year-old school record of 71.80 meters, which placed him fourth at the NCAA Championships. Christensen’s school record-breaking performance eclipsed his lifetime best by nearly four meters.

The sophomore, who redshirted his freshman year, sits in fourth among collegiate competition this year. He will face Mississippi State’s Anderson Peters and Curtis Thompson, who rank first and second in the nation, respectively. Peters (86.07 meters) and Curtis (77.54 meters) both set their season bests at the 92nd Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays on March 27.

Sophomore Liam Christensen (above) holds the fourth best javelin throw in the NCAA. At the 125th Big Meet, he cleared 74.78 meters en route to breaking a year-old school record held by Trever Danielson (71.80 meters). (JOHN P. LOZANO/isiphotos.com)

Danielson will also be in the field representing Texas as a graduate student transfer from Stanford. Danielson (71.75 meters) sits in tenth amongst NCAA competition. While the collegiate record (89.10 meters) may be out of reach, the meet record (73.86 meters) will likely fall, with the nation’s top talent converging on John McDonnell Field Friday at 4:00 p.m. CDT.

Jaimi Salone is scheduled to compete in the shot put and discus throw events. The junior is in the midst of a standout season. At the Big Meet, Salone lifted the Cardinal to a victory in the shot put behind a 14.42-meter throw, good for a personal best.

Two weeks later at the Cardinal Classic, Salone set another lifetime best, throwing the shot an astonishing 14.95 meters to win the event in dramatic fashion. After leading through five rounds at 13.71 meters, Colorado’s Mariah Walker leapt into the lead with a 14.94-meter throw. Salone responded with a throw that would claim the victory by one centimeter and place the junior tenth on Stanford’s all-time performance list.

Salone will get another shot at the event on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. CDT.

Fifth-year senior Rachel Reichenbach is slated to compete in the women’s high jump. At the Big Meet, she broke a long-standing personal barrier after clearing 1.76 meters, placing her ninth in program history in the event. With her previous best (1.75 meters) set in 2017, the veteran worked for two years to soar to new heights.

Reichenbach enters Saturday’s competition tied as the third seed with Baylor’s Alyssa Miller, who shares the same season-best height (1.76 meters). Kansa State’s Clare Gibson, who cleared 1.80 meters at the Michael Johnson Invitational on April 19, enters as the top seed in the field. She ranks 15th in the nation. Oklahoma’s Falyn Reaugh (1.77 meters) has the second-best performance in the field. Competition begins at 10:00 a.m. CDT for the women.

Junior Kaitlyn Merritt and junior Erika Malaspina will face a competitive field in the women’s pole vault. Merritt, the reigning Pac-12 runner-up and an NCAA outdoor qualifier, improved her season best to 4.20 meters to claim the event at the recent Cardinal Classic. She sits in 34th in country behind that performance. Malaspina, who clear a season-best 4.03 meters at the Stanford Invitational on March 29, ranks 55th.

In the invitational section, Merritt will face some of the top talent in the country in Arkansas’s Desiree Freier, who has the 10th best performance in the country with a 4.33-meter season best. The field also includes Baylor’s Tuesdi Tidwell (11th, 4.32 meters), Arkansas’ Alexis Jacobus (22th, 4.25 meters), Kansas’ Alexis Romero (24th, 4.23 meters), Arkansas’ Rylee Robinson (24th, 4.23 meters) and Oklahoma’s Sydney King (29th, 4.21 meters).

Junior Kaitlyn Merritt (above), the reigning Pac-12 runner-up in the pole vault event, will face several of the top collegians in the nation on Saturday. Merritt currently sits in 35th in the NCAA after clearing a season-best 4.20 meters at the Cardinal Classic. (BOB DREBIN/isiphotos.com)

In the sprints, sophomore Ashlan Best will represent Stanford in the 100 meters. She will join senior Missy Mongiovi in the 200 meters on Friday evening. Mongiovi is scheduled to also compete in the 400 meters a few hours earlier with sophomore Carolyn Wilson.

Sophomore Sarah Walker will compete in the 800 meters for the Cardinal, with senior Hannah Labrie-Smith scheduled to run the 100- and 400-meter hurdles. The Cardinal women will also compete in 4×100 and 4×400 meter relays.

On the men’s side, sophomore Gabe Navarro will represent Stanford in the 100 and join freshman Miles Zoltak and senior Isaac Westlund in the 200 meters. Freshman Louis Stenmark, along with Westlund and Zoltak, will compete in the 400 meters. Junior Julian Body is slated to compete in the 110- and 400-meter hurdles.

All individual sprint events will take place on Friday, beginning with the men’s 110-hurdles at 3:25 p.m. CDT. A list of entries, as well as live results and the meet schedule, can be found online. Competition on Friday and Saturday will be streamed on ESPN+.

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

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