Stanford track and field heads to the Pac-12 Championships at Roy P. Drachman Stadium in Tucson, Arizona on Saturday and Sunday. Fifth-year senior Steven Fahy seeks back-to-back conference titles in the men’s steeplechase, while senior Mackenzie Little searches for a career sweep in the women’s javelin.
The Stanford men finished runner-up a year ago to conference heavyweight Oregon. The Ducks have claimed 14 of the last 16 conference titles, including the most recent 12. On the women’s side, USC returns as the reigning champions after breaking Oregon’s nine-year title-winning streak. The Cardinal women placed third last year before placing third at the NCAA championships, tying the program’s best NCAA finish.
Stanford will be represented by a cohort of talent in Arizona, including several conference leaders. On the men’s team, senior Grant Fisher and Liam Christensen are seeded first in the 5,000 meters and javelin, respectively. Little and sophomore triple-jumper Aria Small highlight the No. 1 seeds for the Cardinal women.
Fisher will be looking to reclaim the 1,500-meters conference title after winning it in 2017. The distance veteran ran a lifetime-best 3:39.60 at the Payton Jordan Invitational on May 2, seeding him fourth in the conference. He will face Oregon’s No. 3 Reed Brown, who outkicked Fisher in that same race.
Fisher also highlights the field in the men’s 5,000 meters, an event he won the NCAA title in two seasons ago. He finished third last year and returns as a top contender in the event. The No. 1 seed is joined by five teammates in the top 10, with the Cardinal holding claim to three of the top four times in the conference. Stanford has six athletes — No. 1 Fisher, No. 3 Thomas Ratcliffe, No. 4 Fahy, No. 7 Connor Lane, No. 8 Alex Ostberg and No. 10 Alek Parsons — who have all broken the 13:50 barrier this year.
In addition to the 5,000 meters, Fahy, a steeplechase specialist, returns to his premier event as the No. 2 seed in the field. The defending conference champion will face Arizona’s top-seed Bailey Roth, who led much of last year’s race before Fahy and Washington’s Andrew Gardner broke away with a lap to go. If victorious this year, Fahy will become Stanford’s first runner to claim repeat conference titles in the event and first to do so in the conference since Arizona State’s Aaron Aguayo completed a sweep in 2004-07.
In the men’s javelin, Christensen competes in the first postseason meet of his career. The redshirt freshman broke Stanford’s record by 10 feet in his second collegiate showing earlier this season and leads the conference in the event. He sits in fourth nationally.
On the women’s side, Little leads the Pac-12 in the women’s javelin. Her season best of 59.47 meters puts her atop the NCAA standings by over six feet. The reigning NCAA champion and conference champion seeks to complete a career sweep in the event and claim Stanford its eighth straight women’s javelin conference title. Brianna Bain won the previous four for the Cardinal.
Little will be accompanied by junior Jenna Gray, a two-sport All-American. Gray finished runner-up in the NCAA last year and returns to the conference championships as the No. 2 seed.
The Stanford women will also have a strong presence in the women’s 1,500 meters with four of the top eight seeded times. Sophomore Jessica Lawson leads the Cardinal bunch with the fourth-fastest time (4:16.57) in the field. She will be accompanied by No. 5 sophomore Julia Heymach, No. 6 sophomore Ella Donaghu and No. 8 junior Fiona O’Keeffe.
In the women’s triple jump, Small enters the field as the top seed and searches for Stanford’s first win in this event since Whitney Liehr in 2011.
Contact Alejandro Salinas at asalinas ‘at’ stanford.edu.