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Cross country takes down big names in season opener

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Stanford cross country opened the 2019 season right where it left off, running competitively against some of the strongest teams in the country. At the season-opening John McNichols Invitational in Indiana on Saturday, both the men’s and women’s teams finished second, taking down top ranked programs.

“We had a successful first meet,” said recently-appointed head coach J.J. Clark. “Both teams packed well and ran together, and both men and women beat teams that were ranked in the top five.”

In the women’s race, No. 8 Stanford finished second in a tight race that saw senior Fiona O’Keeffe (16:34) finish second overall on the 6k course. Averaging a time of 16:59, the top five Stanford runners finished within the top 20. Senior Ella Donaghu (6th, 16:45) and junior Jess Lawson (9th, 16:51) joined O’Keeffe in the top 10, helping Stanford score just 54 points. 

Juniors Julia Heymach (17th, 17:18) and Jordan Oakes (20th, 17:29) rounded out the top five for the Cardinal. True freshman Kristin Fahy (31st, 17:39) made her collegiate debut, finishing as Stanford’s No. 6 runner, while senior Hannah DeBalsi (47th, 18:13) crossed soon after to cap the team’s performers.

Despite opening the season under a new set of leadership, the women’s team appeared to build on where it left off last season. Having finished fifth at the cross country national championships last year, the eighth-ranked Cardinal women defeated No. 3 Washington (66) and No. 4 Michigan (75), while No. 5 Arkansas (49) snagged the team title in the heated race.

On the men’s side, the No. 7 Cardinal accumulated just 51 points and averaged a time of 24:17 for the 8k course. Senior Thomas Ratcliffe (23:51) crossed first for the Cardinal as the team finished second behind No. 1 Northern Arizona University, the reigning national champions, who scored just 31 points.

Stanford’s depth was on display Saturday as seven Cardinal runners finished within the top 25. Senior Alex Ostberg (24:05), who consistently ran as Stanford’s No. 2 runner last season, finished seventh overall and second for the Cardinal. The team was also represented by Alek Parsons (12th, 24:22), Callum Bolger (14th, 24:31), Clayton Mendez (16th, 24:39), D.J. Principe (22nd, 24:54) and Steven Fahy (23rd, 24:55).

The team’s cumulative 51-point showing was strong enough to hold off No. 5 Iowa State (66) as well as No. 24 Purdue (70) and No. 16 Indiana (174). 

“Congrats to Thomas [Ratcliffe] and Fiona [O’Keeffe] for lead the team to second place finishes,” said Clark. “Now we’ll head home to improve on our fitness.”

The season continues in four weeks with the Nuttycombe Invitational in Wisconsin on Friday, Oct. 18. 

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

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Alejandro Salinas '21 is a Senior Staff Writer after serving as the Managing Editor of Sports for two volumes. Hailing from Pasadena, CA, he studies computer science and biology as a junior. In his free time he enjoys running, playing with dogs and watching sports. Contact him at asalinas 'at' stanford.edu.