Nationally-Ranked Stanford Opens 2003 Season

Aug. 27, 2003

Stanford, Ca - The success of Stanford men's and women's cross country is astounding. Each year, from the start of the season to the final race at the NCAA Championships, Cardinal teams have been at or near the top of the awards podium.

The facts are amazing. Since 1996, the Cardinal men's cross country team has won three NCAA titles (1996, 1997, 2002), finished runner-up twice (1998, 2001), and placed fourth in 1999 and 2000. At the Pac-10 and NCAA Regional level the results are even more amazing. Stanford has captured seven straight NCAA West Regional titles and six of the last seven Pacific-10 Conference Championship titles.In the last seven years, the Cardinal women have captured one NCAA title (1996), finished runner-up twice (1997, 2002), and placed third three times (1998, 1999, 2000). At the Pac-10 Championships, the Cardinal women have won the conference title nine of the last ten years, including a current streak of seven championships. Stanford has won seven of the last nine NCAA West Regionals titles, including the last four.

Great runners such as Brad and Brent Hauser, Jonathon Riley, Greg Jimmerson, Gabriel Jennings, Gary Stolz, Lauren Fleshman, Regina Jacobs, Julia Stamps, Ceci Hopp, Mary Cobb and PattiSue Plumer have graduated from the Stanford machine, but each year an influx of young talented student-athletes arrive to continue the tradition of championship caliber running as the march to the top moves forward at a brisk pace.

Stanford men's and women's teams open the 2003 season on Saturday when the Cardinal travels to the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational at the Crystal Springs International Cross Country Course in Belmont, Ca.The annual event begins at 9 a.m. with the men's 8,000 meter race, followed by the women's 5,000 meter competition. Men's teams scheduled to compete include Stanford, Cal Poly, Loyola Marymount, College of Notre Dame, USF, San Jose State, UC Santa Cruz and host Santa Clara. Confirmed women's teams include Stanford, Cal Poly, Fresno State, Loyola Marymount, College of Notre Dame, Pacific, USF, San Jose State, and host Santa Clara.

Men's Outlook
Take a look at the 2003 Stanford men's cross country roster and it is a carbon copy of last year's squad which outdistanced the field by a wide margin in winning the NCAA Championship. In 2003, the Stanford pool of talent is perhaps the best ever in school history as all seven members of the title winning 2002 NCAA Championship team return, including four runners that finished in the top-9 individually at the NCAA meet. In fact, the Cardinal returns every reserve from last year's team as well. With an abundance of All-Americans and a highly touted freshman class, the immediate and long-term future of Stanford Cross Country is promising and a successful defense of the 2002 NCAA Cross Country title is first on the to do list.

Six of the most recognized and accomplished runners in collegiate cross country will lead the Cardinal in 2003. Along with exceptional talent, big meet experience and senior leadership, the sextet of Grant Robison, Louis Luchini, Donald Sage, Ian Dobson, Adam Tenforde and Seth Hejny bring with them a total of 41 All-America awards.

Nine-time All-American Grant Robison returns for his final year on The Farm after an outstanding junior season in which he was the Pac-10 Men's Cross Country Athlete of the Year, the Pac-10 Cross Country individual champion and the third place individual at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. The success for Robison continued in track and field as he finished first in the 1500 meters at the NCAA Championships, Pac-10 Championships and NCAA West Regional Championships. In addition, Robison finished third in the 1500 meters at the U.S. National Championships and lowered his 1500 meter personal best to 3:35.75 while racing in Europe.

Fellow nine-time All-American Louis Luchini finished fifth individually at last year's NCAA Cross Country Championships and will be seeking his third consecutive All-America finish. After finishing first in the 5000 and 10,000 meters at the 2003 Pac-10 Championships, first in the 5000 meters at the NCAA West Regional Championships, and runner-up in the 5000 meters at the NCAA Championships, Luchini has established himself as one of the premier distance runners in the United States.

Former NCAA 1500 meter champion Donald Sage has been one of the most consistent performers at the NCAA Cross Country Championships since his arrival at Stanford. Sage is the two-time defending NCAA West Regional individual champion and Athlete of the Year and has finished seventh or better individually at the past two NCAA Cross Country Championship races.

Ian Dobson was Stanford's fourth runner and ninth overall at the 2002 NCAA Cross Country Championships. The 2003 Pac-10 3000 meter steeplechase champion and NCAA 10,000 meter All-American will be seeking his third consecutive cross country All-America honor on the heels of a sixth place finish in the 10,000 meters at the U.S. National Championships. Dobson is the top returning collegiate track and field runner in the 10,000 meters.

Four-time All-American Adam Tenforde was Stanford's fifth runner at the 2002 NCAA Cross Country Championships and returns from a stellar track and field season in which he ran career bests in the 5000 and 10,000 meters, gaining All-American honors in the latter for the second consecutive year.

Senior veteran Seth Hejny redshirted the 2002 cross country season, but has been a member of three NCAA top-four finishing Stanford Cross Country teams. Hejny has been named All-American every year in the 5000 meters, including last year when he finished fourth at the NCAA Championships.

'The six All-American seniors will undoubtedly be a major component of our team this year,' said Head Men's Cross Country Coach Andrew Gerard. 'In addition to being exceptional student-athletes and great leaders, they are all extremely determined to keep our entire team focused on its goal of repeating as NCAA Champions.'

Additional veterans returning from the 2002 roster include seniors Isaac Hawkins, Andrew Hill, Sean Knapp, Andrew Powell, David Stillman and Philip West.

Junior Ryan Hall brings additional NCAA Championship experience to the Cardinal, including an All-America honor from his 37th place finish at the 2003 NCAA Cross Country Championships. Hall was the individual champion at the Stanford and Notre Dame Invitational in 2002. Juniors Chris Emme and Robert Smitson are threats to be among the top individuals in any cross country race. Emme was injured for much of the cross country season last year, but was an indoor All-American in the 3000 meters in 2002. Smitson was a member of Stanford's winning Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional Championship teams last year.

Sophomores Neil Davis, Peter Meindl and Justin Romaniuk will lead a group of young talented student-athletes. Davis was the 2002 Pac-10 Men's Cross Country Newcomer of the Year while Meindl was Stanford's seventh runner at the 2002 NCAA Championships. Romaniuk finished 11th at the 2002 Pac-10 Cross Country Championships and is the 2003 Pac-10 Champion in the 800 meters. Sophomore David Vidal returns after a redshirt season in 2002.

Redshirt freshman Brett Gotcher represented the United States at the 2003 World Junior Cross Country Championships in Lusanne, Switzerland. In track and field, Gotcher won the gold medal in the 10,000 meters at the 2003 Junior Pan American Games in Barbados after winning the 10,000 meter title at the U.S. Junior National Championships. Redshirt freshman Jacob Gomez was one of the top freshmen milers in the NCAA last year after finishing eighth in the 1500 meters at the Pac-10 Championships. Steven Dewitt, Sean Drake, Jonathan Pierce and Rolf Steier will look to contribute for the Cardinal after redshirting in 2002.

'We have a great group of men returning and will have the luxury of choosing from a very deep pool of talent when making our lineup,' says Gerard.

Once again, the Stanford men's cross country program has cornered the market on the nation's top high school distance runners. A highly touted group of freshmen will don Cardinal singlets over the next four years, keeping Stanford in the nation's spotlight. The list includes Neftalem Araia (Indianapolis, IN), Russell Brown (Hanover, NH), Joaquin Chapa (Portland, OR), Barry Fischer (Moraga, CA), Lauren Jespersen (Klamath Falls, OR) and Forrest Tahdooahnippah (St. Paul, MN).

Araia is the two-time Indiana state cross country champion. Brown is the New Hampshire state cross country champion and was one of the top high school half-milers as a senior. Chapa, the son of former American distance running great Rudy Chapa, won the Oregon state 1500 meter title in 2003. Jespersen is a two-time Footlocker National Championship finalist. Tahdooahnippah was the Minnesota state cross country runner-up during his senior season.

Laden with numerous All-Americans, senior leadership, and talented young sophomores and freshmen, the 2003 Stanford Cardinal are primed for an attempt at another season filled with championship titles at the conference and NCAA level.

Women's Outlook
After narrowly missing the NCAA cross country title a year ago, the Cardinal have reloaded with a balanced group of feisty veterans and talented newcomers. Minus four-time All-American and five-time NCAA Champion Lauren Fleshman, the task may seem daunting for many teams, but the torch has simply been passed to another deserving Stanford student-athlete and the drive to prominence continues as the Cardinal women look to extend their streak of finishing third or better in seven of the last eight NCAA Cross Country Championships, including a second place finish last year.

Four of Stanford's seven runners from the 2002 NCAA Championship runner-up team return giving the Cardinal the potential to be among the strong contenders for the national title in 2003. Included in those four are two of the premier women distance runners in the collegiate ranks in juniors Alicia Craig and Sara Bei. Fellow juniors Jeane Goff and Anita Siraki complete the championship-experienced foursome.

In just two short years on The Farm, Alicia Craig has positioned herself to become one of the greatest distance runners in Stanford history. Craig's impressive list of accomplishments continues to grow year after year thanks largely to a banner 2002-03 season. During the 2002 cross country season, Craig was named the Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional Women's Athlete of the Year, was the NCAA West Regional individual champion, finished third individually at the NCAA Championships, and was named All-American for the second consecutive year. The success for Craig continued during the 2003 track and field season as she was the NCAA and Pac-10 Champion in the 10,000 meters. Craig's time of 32:40.03 in the 10,000 meters at the NCAA Championships set a school record. In the 5000 meters, Craig ran the sixth fastest time ever in NCAA history at 15:25.75. Indoors, Craig was named All-American in the 5000 and 3000 meters after placing third and fifth, respectively at the NCAA Championships. Craig's time of 15:43.04 at the NCAA Indoor Championships was a school record and her time of 9:07.88 in the 3000 meters was the third fastest in school history.

'Alicia Craig will be a great leader for this team,' says Head Women's Cross Country Coach Dena Evans. 'She's been a tremendous addition to our team since her arrival at Stanford and has established herself as one of the nation's elite athletes.'

Sara Bei is no stranger to success and has emerged as one of the top distance runners in the country in just two years. Bei enjoyed an outstanding cross country season last year as she claimed the individual title at the Pac-10 Championships and was victorious at three additional meets. Bei was Stanford's fourth runner at the NCAA Championships. During the 2003 track and field season, Bei was the NCAA West Regional champion in the 5000 meters. At the Pac-10 Championships, Bei was runner-up in the 10,000 meters and finished third in the 5000 meters. Bei's season bests in the 10,000 and 5000 meters were the fifth and sixth best times in school history, respectively.

'Sara Bei has two good collegiate cross country seasons under her belt and has proven that she can win at this level,' says Evans. 'She and Craig will complete a formidable one-two punch in our lineup.'

After competing for the Cardinal at the 2002 NCAA Cross Country Championships, juniors Jeane Goff and Anita Siraki will provide plenty of championship experience for Stanford. Goff had an excellent showing at the 2002 NCAA West Regional Championships with an 11th place finish and placed in the top-20 at the Pac-10 Championships. In track and field, Goff was runner-up in the 3000 meter steeplechase at the Pac-10 Championships for the second consecutive year and was an indoor All-American in the Distance Medley Relay. Anita Siraki will play a pivotal role in the team's success in 2003 having participated in all seven of Stanford's races last year, including a top-20 finish at the NCAA West Regional Championships.

Sophomores Kristin Cohoon and Yfa Kretzschmar, both of whom participated in numerous races in 2002, will provide additional strength. Christine Concho and Elizabeth Rose also return for Stanford.

As has been the case the past several years, Stanford has once again attracted many of the top high school recruits in the United States. Ten freshmen runners will join an already strong roster to keep the Cardinal in the national spotlight in the years ahead. The new recruits are Julie Allen (Corona Del Mar, CA), Christine George (Piscataway, NJ), Arianna Lambie (Harvard, MA), Teresa McWalters (San Francisco, CA), Casey Nevitt (Aptos, CA), Carolyn Penner (Los Gatos, CA), Leah Sawyer (Medford, OR), Celia Smalls (Seattle, WA), and twin sisters Amanda and Kathleen Trotter (Little Silver, NJ).

Lambie arrives on The Farm as the most coveted women's middle distance recruit in the United States. As a high school senior in 2002-03, Lambie was the Footlocker Northeast Regional Cross Country champion. In track and field, Lambie had the fastest times in the nation in the mile and two-mile. Her time of 4:37.23 in the mile is the third fastest high school time ever. Lambie set a national high school record in the 1000 meters indoors. Lambie culminated her high school career with a dominating victory in the 1500 meters at the U.S. Junior National Championships.

Amanda and Katy Trotter were two of the top two-milers in the nation as high school seniors last year. Katy was the 2002 Footlocker National Cross Country runner-up and was ranked in the top-eight in the nation in both the mile and two-mile. McWalters was one of the top young runners as a San Francisco Bay Area home-schooled student, while Allen was a Footlocker National finalist in 2001.

'The freshman class has the talent and potential to provide instant results for our team,' says Evans. 'Combined with our returning veterans, the freshman class will provide us with a balanced team throughout our lineup.'

The rest of the cross country world will be waiting to see if this talented group of runners can extend the Cardinal streak of top finishes at the championship level.

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