Several Olympians and world-record holders converge on Cobb Track and Field for the 24th Payton Jordan Invitational on Thursday night. The meet, which marks the final home meet of the year for Stanford track and field, also welcomes five All-American alumni back to The Farm.
Historically, several U.S. records and world leading-times have been set at this meet. Last year’s meet featured five U.S.-leading times, three collegiate leaders and one world leader.
Stanford senior Grant Fisher and fifth-year Steven Fahy will both compete at home for the final time in a Stanford uniform. The meet also welcome back five All-America alumni — Olivia Baker, Vanessa Fraser, Rebecca Mehra, Sean McGorty and Jessica Tonn — to The Farm.
Olivia Baker competes at the Farm for the first time since graduating last June. She holds Stanford’s record in 800 meters (2:00.08) and finished runner-up at the 2016 NCAA Championships. She in the midst of preparing for the IAAF World relays in Yokohama, Japan, where she will be representing the U.S. for the first time.
The field also includes BYU’s Lauren Ellsworth (2:02.49) and Oregon’s Susan Ejore (2:03.09). The pair ran the second and third-fastest collegiate times, respectively, this year at the same meet on April 5. The rematch is set for 7:10 p.m. Thursday.
Juniors Isaac Cortes and Hari Sathyamurthy represent the Cardinal in the men’s 800 meters. They will battle with Southern Utah’s George Espino, a five-time Big Sky indoor and outdoor 800 champion. The field also includes Notre Dame de Namur University freshman Jason Gomez, the 2018 California state high school 800 meter champion. Cortes is also a California state champion in the event, having placed first in the event back in 2016. The men’s 800 meters is scheduled to begin after the women’s race.
Women’s 3,000 steeplechase
Boise State’s Allie Ostrander highlights the collegiate talent in the women’s steeplechase. Ostrander, a two-time NCAA champion in the event, tends to have a particularly strong performance when on the Farm. In her last showing on Cobb Track back on March 29 at the Stanford Invitational, she ran the fastest collegiate 10,000 meters (32:06.71) at the event in a race that produced the top 14 times this season. Thursday will mark her first steeple in 2019.
Ostrander will be joined by Argentina’s Belen Casetta, the South American record holder at 9:25.99 set in 2017. Casetta highlights the professionals in the field and will likely pull the field to a fast, competitive race. Providence’s Brianna Ilarda holds the collegiate record (9:50.42) this season, but with Ostrander and company, that record will likely fall. Gun goes off at 7:18 p.m.
Men’s 3,000 steeplechase
Fahy, the 2018 Pac-12 steeplechase champion, represents the Cardinal in the men’s steeplechase. He placed third in the event as a senior at the NCAA Championships last year and faces the reigning NCAA champion in Minnesota’s Obsa Ali. The two will likely rematch again at nationals in June.
The field also includes Gonzaga’s Andrew Gardner, who won the Cardinal Classic in this event on April 20; David Goodman, the 2019 U.S. leader in the event (8:31.36) and 2011 NCAA Division II champion at Western Colorado; and Jose Pena, a two-time Olympian and Venezuela’s record-holder in the event. The race kicks off at 7:46 p.m.
Stanford 1,500 meter record holder Elise Cranny (4:09.49) returns to the home track for the first time since graduating in the December. In her collegiate career, Cranny accumulated 12 All-America honors and two Pac-12 individual titles and was runner-up at the 2016 NCAA Championships. She faces four-time NCAA champion Jessica Hull from Oregon. One of the Duck’s leading performers on the women’s distance team, Hull has won every individual event she has competed in this year, including the 5,000 meters at the Stanford Invitational.
Hull and Cranny make up two of the top three finishers from the 2018 NCAA outdoor 1,500 meters. They will be joined in the field by Bowerman’s Karissa Schweizer, a six-time NCAA champ and the 3,000 American collegiate record holder. Marielle Hall, a 2016 Olympian in the 10,000 meters, will also be in the mix, as will Stanford’s All-American Rebecca Mehra, who finished second to Cranny at the 2016 Pac-12 1,500-meter Championships. Sophomore Jordan Oakes will also be in the field. The race is set for 9:14 p.m.
The next chapter of the friendly rivalry between former Stanford teammates Grant Fisher and Sean McGorty continues on Thursday at 9:20 p.m. The duo have shared the past two NCAA outdoor 5,000 championships. Fisher will be competing for the final time at home in a Stanford uniform, while McGorty comes back to the Farm for the first time as a professional.
Fisher’s lifetime best at this distance (3:41.24) came at this meet last year. McGorty ran 3:41.24 last summer in Belgium to leap to Stanford’s No. 4 spot in the program’s all-time record book. They are joined by steeplechase meet record holder Matt Hughes as well as Clayton Murphy, the 2016 Olympic 800-meter bronze medalist. Lopez Lomong, the flag-bearer for the U.S. team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, will also be in the field.
A load of talent will converge on Cobb for the women’s 5,000 meters, beginning with Jenny Simpson, a three-time Olympian, former 3,000-meter steeplechase American record holder and three-time medalist at the Wold Championships. The 11-time national champion steps up from her main distance, 1,500 meters, to 5,000 meters, which she won at last year’s Payton Jordan. She also won the 10,000 meters at this meet two years ago.
The field also includes Washington’s Isobel Batt-Doyle, the 2019 Cardinal Classic 5,000-meter winner; New Mexico’s Ednah Kurgat, the 2017 NCAA cross country champion; and Weini Kelati, the reigning NCAA cross country runner-up also from New Mexico. 2018 NCAA indoor mile champion Elinor Purrier will also be in the mix along with Stanford’s own representatives: junior Fiona O’Keeffe and fifth-year Abbie McNulty. O’Keeffe finished third in this event at the indoor NCAA Championships last season. This race is scheduled for 9:26 p.m.
Like the women’s race, the men’s 5,000 meters highlights one of the most competitive fields of the evening. Nike Oregon Project runner Yomif Kejelcha ran 12:46.43 last August, making him the seventh-fastest ever at this distance. He will be in the field along with Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen. The 18-year old Ingebrigtsen is a world phenomenon, and rightly so. In the 1,500 meters at the Payton Jordan Invitational last year, the then 17-year old beat 2016 Olympic Champion Matt Centrowitz.
Jakob’s older two brothers Henrik and Filip will also be in the race. Henrik won this event last year and was the 2012 European Championships gold medalist and Olympian at 1,500 meters. Filip was the 2016 European Championships gold medalist at the same distance.
The U.S. indoor two-mile champion, Drew Hunter, will also be in the race, as will BYU’s Conner Mantz, who won the 10,000 meters at the Stanford Invitational in a time that remains the American and collegiate leader (28:18.18). Two-time NCAA individual champion Justyn Knight will be in the mix. The Canadian won this event in 2017.
Other notable names include Ben Blankenship, a 2016 Olympic finalist at 1,500 meters; Gonzaga’s James Mwaura, the recent 10,000-meter Cardinal Classic champion; and Erik Jenkins, a two-time NCAA indoor champion during his career at Oregon.
Stanford will be represented by Alex Ostberg, who placed fifth at the most recent NCAA indoor 3,000-meter championships. He will be making his outdoor season debut. Gun goes off at 9:45 p.m.
Former Cardinal Vanessa Fraser, who set the Stanford 5,000 meter record in Belgium last summer, returns to the Farm in her first year with Nike’s Bowerman Track Club. She will face former Stanford teammate Jessica Tonn, who won the event last year. The field also includes five-time NCAA champion Dominique Scott and two-time Payton Jordan winner at 5,000 meters, Sifan Hassan. Several other pro runners compete in the women’s race, which is set to begin at 10:02 p.m.
The evening meet will conclude with the men’s 10,000 meters. While Stanford will not be represented in the race, several international talents highlight a competitive mix. Hassan Mead, a 2016 5,000-meter Olympian, and England’s Marc Scott will be in the field. Kenya native Lawi Lalang, the 2011 NCAA cross country champion, will also be in the field. The race is scheduled for 10:40 p.m.
Contact Alejandro Salinas at asalinas ‘at’ stanford.edu.