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Stanford Track: 10 Qualify for NCAA Indoor Nationals in only Meet #2

The Stanford Track team had an outstanding showing at the Penn State National Meet

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinal just completed its second meet of the season, and already have 10 athletes seemingly qualified for the NCAA Indoor Track Nationals in Birmingham, Alabama on March 11-12.

Competing at the Penn State National Meet over the last two days, Stanford's athletes certainly did not fail to impress.

The headliner was made on day one, where collegiate teams put forth their DMR (Distance Medley Relay) teams. Consisting of a 1200m, 400m, 800m, and 1600m, it has become a staple in Stanford's indoor success over the years. The men's quartet of Tom Coyle, Jackson Shumway, Justin Brinkley, and Sean McGorty set the school record of 9:27.27, and positioned themselves as the No. 5 fastest DMR in collegiate history. This time cracked Stanford's 2013 mark of 9:28.25, run on a slightly wider track than Penn State's 200m.

Coyle opened with his 1200m at 2:54.5, where Shumway brought Stanford from 3rd into 2nd with a 46.9 400m, slicing his personal best by 0.81 seconds. Brinkley held onto second with a 1:49.6 800m. McGorty still closed with a 3:55.8 1600m, beating his personal best by about 1.5s, but that just wasn't enough to take the leading Penn State who finished just 0.07s ahead of the Cardinal to run the fastest DMR in the country this year.

The women's DMR did not fall short behind, running 10:54.58 for No. 3 in Stanford's record books and No. 8 in collegiate history. The group of Claudia Saunders, Kristyn Williams, Olivia Baker, and Rebecca Mehra dueled with Georgetown's squad the entire way.

Saunders hung by Georgetown's Andrea Keklak for almost the entirety of their 1200m, only to finish with about a 15m gap at the end of her 3:22.7 split. Williams nearly closed that entire distance, running a scorching 52.6 400m. Baker ran her 800m on the heels of Georgetown's Sabrina Southerland, finishing with a 2:02.6. Georgetown's Katrina Coogan, a two-time indoor All-America, anchored for the Bulldogs, but Mehra, 2014 second-team outdoor All-America in the 1500m and rookie anchor was not about to back down from a challenge. They were neck-and-neck until the bell, where Mehra gave everything she had left to close the final 200m, clocking a 4:36.0 winning split—a full 4.46s faster than her previous best.

Grateful for the opportunity, Mehra proved herself.

"It was an absolute honor to be able to represent Stanford on that anchor leg, it's been a dream of mine since I was in high school,"

Mehra went on post-race.

"I knew it was going to come down to a battle between us and Georgetown, so when I got the baton, I knew I would have to be calm and collected and stick with Katrina."

And that she did.

Both DMR teams ran qualifying times for Nationals, allowing the 8 to start planning their flights to Birmingham already. Except, sophomore Harrison Williams also decided to join in on the action the next morning.

With a personal-best of 5,690 points in the heptathlon to win the event, Williams recorded the second highest total in Stanford history behind John Hustedt's standing record of 5,937 set in 2007. The event consists of a 60m dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 60m hurdles, pole vault, and 1000m, showing Williams to be quite the well-rounded athlete.

Triple jumper Darian Brooks will join Williams in Birmingham, who broke the school record at the UW Indoor Preview back on January 16th with a 52' 9¼" leap. Brooks finished first among collegiate athletes on day two with a combined jump of 52'.

Also triple jumping was sophomore Marisa Kwiatkowski, who secured herself the No. 10 spot on Stanford's indoor records with a 40' 10¼".

Coming off qualifying for Nationals the night before in their DMR, Olivia Baker and Claudia Saunders further secured their spots with stellar performances on tired legs. Baker won the 800m at 2:04.10 as the No. 2 fastest in Cardinal history, with Saunders finishing a third of a second behind and now one spot behind in the records.

Stanford will have some time to let this amazing performance sink in as they await their next races on February 12th and 13th at either the Husky Classic in Seattle, Iowa State Classic, or BYU's Don Kirby Elite Invitational in Albuquerque, depending on the events which the athlete competes.