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Track and field produces nationally-ranked performances at indoor season opener

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Stanford opened the indoor track and field season with nationally-ranked performances at the UW Preview on Saturday. The meet marked the debut of first-year head coach J.J. Clark and his staff.

“We had good performances on both sides,” Clark said. “The team’s energy was high and they had good focus. It’s still early but a good start.”

Stanford produced two overall winners against the competitive field. Junior Aria Small claimed the women’s triple jump with a leap of 12.19 meters, while sophomore Max McKhann threw for 18.94 meters to win the men’s weight throw in his indoor debut. His mark is the ninth-longest in program history.

Freshman Max Manson, a Colorado state champion and 2019 New Balance Nationals Champion, made his debut in a Cardinal uniform, clearing 5.21 meters for an impressive third-place finish in the pole vault.

In the men’s mile, senior Thomas Ratcliffe and fifth-year Alex Ostberg nearly eclipsed the four-minute barrier. Ratcliffe crossed in 4:00.04 for fifth, while Ostberg, who broke four minutes for the first time last year, placed seventh in 4:00.59.

“Max winning his weight and Max jumping 17-1 in his first meet were highlights for the men’s,” said Clark. “Ratcliffe and Ostberg were right on the edge of breaking the majestical 4:00 mile barrier. All were nationally ranked marks.”

Competing in his Stanford debut, freshman Devin Hart placed third in the 3,000 meters with a time of 8:02.47, good for the No. 3 time in the country, while sophomore Clay Mendez finished ninth overall in 8:06.90.

The women’s distance program, composed of many of the same runners who led Stanford to a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships last November, had a particularly impressive day at Washington’s Dempsey Indoor.

In the women’s 1,000 meters, junior Julia Heymach crossed in 2:54.36 for second place, as Oregon’s Susan Ejore edged her out for the win in 2:54.34. Junior Kaitlyn Ryan finished eighth with a time of 2:54.67.

In the mile, junior Jessica Lawson finished as the top U.S. collegian and fourth-overall with a time of 4:37.64. With that performance, Lawson now holds the No. 1 time in the country.

Senior Ella Donaghu, Stanford’s top finisher from the cross country national championships, opened her indoor season with an electrifying finish in the 3,000 meters. She finished as the top-collegian and second overall by just six hundredths of a second with a time of 8:58.31. She also holds the top time in the country.

“Jessica and Ella ran top national marks that should advance them to the NCAA Championships,” Clark said. 

Junior Ashlan Best clocked 53.69 for second in the 400 meters, marking the fourth-fastest time in program history and sixth-best in the country. Junior Carolyn Wilson followed in third with a time of 55.15. 

In the women’s pole vault, graduate student Kaitlyn Merritt and senior Erika Malaspina placed second and third, respectively. Merritt is the reigning MPSF champion in the event, with Malaspina taking second last year after a personal-best performance. 

“Ashlan opened up with a quality 400 and 200, showing her national class abilities,” Clark said. “Our vaulters and jumpers are in position to make a big impact as well.”  

Stanford has two weeks before its next competition at the Razorback Invitational from Jan. 31 to Feb. 1 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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

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.