This past weekend, the Cardinal hosted one of the nation’s most prestigious Track & Field competitions of the season, the Payton Jordan Invitational. Featuring names like Millrose champions Matthew Centrowitz and Eric Jenkins, Stanford athletes faced the highest tier of competition out there.
The most noticeable headline actually came from someone that won’t even be able to contribute to the red and black until the fall: Vanessa Fraser. Redshirting this season, the college senior competed like a professional, finishing 9th in the women’s 5000m with a time of 15:25.83s; a career-best by 15 seconds and what would have been the fastest time run by a collegian this season—if she was not redshirting. Fraser, who capped offer her race by being mobbed by friends and teammates in the grandstand, now holds the No. 2 time in the US, and No. 14 in the world.
Wind had the potential to be problematic for this race, but luckily for Fraser the group went out particularly slow, allowing her to tuck into the pack and let the group brace the breeze for her.
What certainly wasn’t against Fraser was the venue. Home-track advantage does not usually carry much weight in this sport, but that wasn’t the case in this race. The announcers had Fraser’s personal playlist broadcasting over the loudspeaker, and as she said afterwards, she was just “focusing on [her] vibe”.
I run track myself and have my own personal playlist that I use to pump myself up before races, but when I’m on the line, the headphones are off and I’m just hoping some of that emotion can linger as the fatigue sets in. I can only imagine the feeling of racing to that playlist.
Fraser herself could not even believe the time.
"If you would have told me at that meet as a freshman that I was going to run 15:25 in three years, I would have laughed. It seems so huge, but it really only chips away, with consistent training," she said.
Although 5 seconds off the automatic qualifying standard for the U.S. Championships, she will still most likely be able to qualify with that that time of 15:25.83s.
Aside from Fraser, other Stanford athletes who shined include Jackson Shumway taking 2nd in the 400m with a 46.69s and Olivia Baker taking 7th in the 800m in 2:06.76s.
Up next for the Cardinal will be the last chance meet in San Francisco next weekend.