Feature: Track and Field Championship Recap

May 15, 2007

By Roxie Dickinson The Stanford Daily

May 15, 2007

Stanford, CA (CSTV U-WIRE) -- In one of the most competitive meets in the country, right here on the Farm, the Stanford women's track and field team captured second place in this past weekend's Pacific-10 Conference Championships with a score of 134.33, while the men's team seized eighth with a score of 72.

The Arizona State women's squad overcame the Cardinal to win the team championship by recording 158 total points. Oregon came out on top on the men's side with an overall score of 114 points.

Thanks to the amazing performances of both teams, Stanford rewrote the school's record books in one men's individual event victory and four women's individual event victories. For junior Arianna Lambie, though, the records weren't everything in a challenging weekend for the Cardinal.

'The numbers fail to show how much heart all the men and women put out there.' the co-captain said. 'It was frustrating to come up short of the [Pac-10] title. To see that the women were able to score 134 points, even with the little spurts of bad luck that we had, makes me really proud of what everyone did over the weekend.'

The men entered the final day's events in sixth place with a score of 26 points. During day one of the meet, senior Michael Robertson had a school record-shattering throw of 205-09 (62.71m) in the discus event and ended in second place. Meanwhile, junior Graeme Hoste lifted himself to fourth place in the pole vault event with his season-best mark of 17-06 1/2 feet (5.35 meters).

The women's squad was in fourth place after the first day of competition with a score of 31.33. But the Cardinal came back during day two to overcome both UCLA and Southern California during the final events and secure second place.

On Saturday, the first Cardinal woman to win a Pac-10 title was junior Teresa McWalters, who dominated the field with her time of 35:10.62 in the 10,000-meter run. McWalters, also a cross-country runner, saw the two sports' differences in her race.

'When Amy [Hastings of Arizona; 2nd-place finisher] and I broke away with five kilometers to go, that gave me a lot of confidence,' she said. 'I felt really comfortable and smooth. I kept feeding off of the energy. I like to think of cross country as blood and guts - you don't have to be particularly quick, you just need to have guts and heart. On the track, though, it seems more strategic.'

Also on Saturday, junior Erica McLain launched her way across the pit to finish second in the women's long jump, posting her season-best distance of 21-02 1/2 feet (6.49 meters). McLain extended her performance into Sunday's events, successfully defending her title in the women's triple-jump competition by earning her fifth career Pac-10 championship with an American collegiate record mark of 46-05 1/4 feet (14.15 meters).

McLain's triple-jump distance was only five meters off of the Olympic 'A' standard, and the junior talked about her plans to participate in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

'[My triple-jump length] sets me up really well, not only for NCAAs, but also for trying to make the Olympics,' McLain said. 'My parents have already bought stadium tickets and are waiting for me to qualify to buy plane tickets. But I'm going to qualify - I'm going to Beijing.'

Senior Jakki Bailey was able to score in four events for the Cardinal. Most notably, she posted a third-place finish in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.68 seconds, in addition to another third-place finish in the 200 meters (23.96). Senior Ashley Freeman came in second in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:06.12 minutes, while freshman Kara Bennett managed an impressive, third-place performance, throwing the javelin 137-10 feet (42.02 meters).

Another notable contributor to the Cardinal's performance was junior Lindsay Allen, who seized the second-place spot in the women's 3,000-meter steeple chase with a time of 10:20.91. Allen ran in third for the whole race, but the leader fell in the last water jump and Allen took advantage to rank second in the race.

Lastly, the Cardinal women dominated the competition in the 1,500-meter run to take the top three slots. Lambie was the Pac-10 champion (4:19.12), while junior Lauren Centrowitz (4:19.76) and sophomore Alicia Follmar (4:21.72) followed her, respectively.

'I'm so happy [because] we weren't expecting this at all,' Centrowitz said. 'We were trying to go for the 1-2-3 sweep. Arianna held back because she was supposed to hold off everybody else, and then she has enough speed to catch up to us. [The strategy] worked because most of the runners were keying off Arianna, as she's the defending champion in the 1500.'

Lambie continued to outshine the competition and went on to win the 5,000-meter run with a time of 15:57.59. She is the first 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter winner in women's Pac-10 history.

'There's a lot of honor to winning individual events and I'm so happy to honor Stanford,' Lambie said. 'I'm so grateful to be feeling like I do right now. I'm healthy, fit, and more than anything, I'm out there with my teammates.'

On the men's side, senior Jacob Gomez rallied himself to earn an unanticipated, fourth-place finish in the extremely competitive 5,000-meter run with a time of 14:14.17. The top runner in the nation, Galen Rupp of Oregon, predictably took first with a time of 14:02.00.

Senior Feranmi Okanlami, who injured himself last week, was questionable up until the very end for the men's triple jump. But the co-captain showed resilience and determination, managing to take third place and earn Stanford a few points when he shot across the pit for a distance of 50-04 3/4 feet (15.36 meters).

Another unexpected-but-outstanding finish in the triple jump came from freshman Richard Sherman, who took fifth-place honors by jumping a distance of 49-09.25 feet (15.17 meters).

Junior Russell Brown won the only Pac-10 title for the men's track team in the 1,500-meter run. He was in the lead for the entire duration of the race, leaving the competition in the dust with a blazing time of 3:46.89. Sophomore Garrett Heath was right behind him, taking third place with a time of 3:49.74.

'The only time I caught a glance of anyone else was on the Jumbotron,' Brown said. 'I ratcheted it up with about 700 [meters] to go, and no one came. With about 100 to go, I knew I had it because no one had pressed me beyond where I wanted to press myself. So, I enjoyed the last 100. Obviously I was nervous because anything can happen, but I felt good.'

'I firmly believe that this is the best conference in the country,' Brown continued. 'It gives me the utmost confidence because I think any way the race was run, I would have won it. My goal is to win an NCAA championship, and I don't think there are too many guys better than these guys today.'

Both the men's and the women's squads are ready for the NCAAs after this weekend's accomplishments. The Cardinal starts off with the NCAA West Regional, May 25-26 in Eugene, Ore.

'Congratulations to everyone that made it this far,' Okanlami said. 'We have worked hard all season and we are looking forward to regionals. I hope that we can get as many people as possible to qualify for nationals.'

(C) 2007 The Stanford Daily via CSTV U-WIRE

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