This past weekend we saw the men’s and women’s cross country teams go their separate ways as the men raced at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational, while the women took their shot at the Pre-National Invitational in Indiana.
The men took second as a team, with a sizeable 40-point gap between them and No. 1 finishing and No. 1 NCAA ranked Northern Arizona. However, the Cardinal did manage to dethrone No. 3 ranked BYU, who took third, and No. 2 ranked Syracuse, who took second.
Individually, Stanford was led by All-America sophomore Grant Fisher in 23:55.5s on the 8K (4.97-mile) course, who missed the podium by only one spot, finishing fourth. Behind him was All-America senior Sean McGorty in sixth at 23:58.9s. Red did not see the finish line again until nearly half a minute later, when Garrett Sweatt came in at 24:25.9s to take 32nd.
McGorty spent much of his time in the early going sitting on the tail of second place finisher Futsum Zienasellassie, while Fisher hung back until asserting himself around the 5K mark. Having the races under his belt, McGorty was leading the pack for a majority of the middle portion of the race. Except, handling that seemed to wear him down and slide him a few spots back as the race unfolded, but he was still able to remain in a position of contention.
“This is a huge step forward for our team. This is by far the best we’ve ever been at this point in the season.” commented Stanford men’s cross country head coach and track & field director Chris Miltenberg.
Having been rested up to this point, the Cardinal’s top two runners came out with a vengeance in their first race of the season, offering nothing but optimism on our side of it as they gradually return back into experienced race-form.
19 of the nation’s top-30 teams were represented at this meet, giving the Stanford men’s squad a good taste of the rigor waiting for them ahead at NCAA Nationals in Indiana, where the women tested the course this past Saturday to a sixth place finish.
Vanessa Fraser led the red and white in 24th at 20:39.7s on the 6K (3.73-mile) course at the Pre-National Invitational. Within the next 19 seconds, Danielle Katz, Christina Aragon and Ella Donaghu all managed to cross the finish line.
Aragon and Donaghu are both freshman who were making their respective debuts, coming in with the renowned reputations of holding two of the fastest 1500-meter high school times in history.
Finishing only four points behind fifth place Arkansas, a Stanford team with Elise Cranny back would ensure that gap to be erased, and then some. Cranny, the 2014 Pac-12 silver medalist, “tweaked” her foot the day before and was held out as a precautionary measure.
Despite another meet of not being able to race the full top-7 together, women’s head coach Elizabeth Debole deemed this performance a “positive” one.
Up next for both squads is the Pac-12 Championships in Tucson, Arizona on Friday, October 28th. We’re narrowing down on the postseason, and the Cardinal has its momentum swinging in the right direction.