Okay, for real this time: Outdoor track is here. Yes the season technically started two weeks ago in Sacramento but now the Cardinal was all forces go.
This past weekend, the Cardinal hosted its annual Stanford Invitational, kicking off the outdoor season for most schools. A two day matinee, Stanford made sure it defended home.
Mackenzie Little, the reigning javelin Pac-12 champion, won the event with a throw of 182’5”, coming extremely close to the school record which she expects to eclipse by the season’s end. Freshman Jenna Gray took 4th with a 159’10” toss and Victoria Smith finished 6th with a 149’. At this rate, it is quite realistic to predict Stanford sending three women’s javelin throwers to NCAA Nationals—a testament to the school’s field program.
Gray is a two-sport athlete, splitting time between Volleyball and Track. She literally just joined the track team about three weeks ago and only practiced twice before her phenomenal debut. We can only imagine what a little time into her new craft could do. She has said that Volleyball will take priority, but she is confirmed to at least compete next week at Big Meet against Cal and at the Pac-12 Championships.
"There's been a lot of coordination," Gray said. "All my coaches have been understanding."
Moving over to the track, Stanford defended its title over the women’s 4*400m relay, carried by stud Olivia Baker’s anchor leg. She took the baton with a 20m gap between her and North Dakota State and managed to edge them out by the final straightaway en route to a 51.8s quarter. The rest of the relay was rounded out by the likes of Missy Mongiovi, Michaela Crunkleton Wilson, and Hannah Labrie-Smith, combining for a total time of 3:37.14s.
Another two-sport [kind of] athlete also making waves this weekend was freshman Christina Aragon. She made her track debut with the 800m and finished 13th overall with a time of 2:07.88s, showcasing her versatility. A cross country All-America earlier in the fall, Aragon posted that time in the 800 and then still came back to run a leg for the B team in the 4*400m.
“What makes her really good is she doesn't have just one strength," said Chris Miltenberg, Stanford's Franklin P. Johnson Director of Track and Field. "Her strengths are her speed and her strength. She can run cross country and a 2:04 800 and split fast on a 4x4. She's got that full range of tools and that's what makes her really good."
Back in high school, Aragon was a level 10 gymnast and although she did not continue the sport collegiately, she still uses that form of training as a much-needed mental and physical escape from the toll of running year-round.
Up next on the season’s schedule will be the 123rd annual Big Meet at Cal next Saturday.