Grant Fisher. Fiona O’Keeffe. Christina Aragon. Rebecca Mehra. Olivia Baker. Mackenzie Little. Jenna Gray. Lena Giger.
Those are the names of the 8 who earned the right this past weekend to don the red and white for the Stanford Cardinal at NCAA Nationals up in Eugene, Oregon.
Competing down in Austin, Texas, the Cardinal used the NCAA Western Regional meet to propel their athletes to the next round of the postseason.
Grant Fisher, the Pac-12 champ in the 1500m, qualified in the 5000m by winning his section. The race went out slow, as Fisher sat back waiting to unleash his typically fast kick. Fisher ran 14:12.79s, setting himself up to improve on his 6th place finish last year at Nationals as a freshman. He took 5th last fall at Cross Country Nationals in the 10,000m in 29:57.9s.
On the women’s side, Fiona O’Keefe won her heat of the 5000m in 16:40.83s, advancing alongside Fisher.
Christina Aragon and Rebecca Mehra found their route in the 1500m. The top-5 in each of their two heats advanced automatically, with Aragon taking 3rd in Heat 1 in 4:29.07s and Mehra taking 5th in 4:29.32s. 5 Stanford women advanced to the final round: Aragon, Mehra, Malika Waschmann, Maddy Berkson, and Elise Cranny. Waschmann missed a Nationals birth by less than a tenth of a second, being the top non-qualifier and 8th finisher in her heat in a time of 4:21.76s, ahead of both of her qualifying teammates. While NCAA Nationals should reward athletes based on speed, this system shows how strategy can nearly be tantamount.
Olivia Baker, the 2-time All-America selection and last year’s silver medalist in the 800m at Nationals, qualified for a 3rd straight year in the 800m in a time of 2:04.55s.
Mackenzie Little took 3rd in the javelin throw (167’ 7”) as she joins her 10th place finishing teammate Jenna Gray (158’ 6”) in Eugene. Lena Giger also qualified, throwing 55’ 9 ¼” in the shot put for 6th place.
Other notable performances include the women’s 4*400m relay of Missy Mongiovi, Olivia Baker, Sarah Walker, and Michaela Crunkleton Wilson, who finished 16th overall in a time of 3:37.29s, 4 spots away from qualifying.
7 of Stanford’s 8 qualifiers will be returning next season, exemplifying the depth we have brewing out in California. The lone graduate is Rebecca Mehra, who recently graduated with her masters in communications.
The 8 will head up to Oregon from June 7-10 to compete one last time this year and close off another successful season of Cardinal track.