Stanford Cross Country Opens Season Friday

Sept. 2, 2009

The Stanford cross country teams will open the 2009 cross country season on Friday, Sept. 4, by traveling limited squads to Reno, Nev. to take part in the Nevada Twilight XC Classic. The Cardinal who are currently at their preseson training camp in Mammoth Lakes will travel five men and five women to compete in the season opening meet. Stanford will not unveil their full squads until the Stanford Invitational on Sept. 26.

Second year head coach Jason Dunn leads a pair of talented teams that should be nationally competitive once again this season.

2009 Season Outlook

Stanford enters the 2009 cross country season with high expectations for both the men's and women's teams. Head coach Jason Dunn begins his second season and has the Cardinal poised to contend for both the men's and women's NCAA titles.

A year after finishing on the podium with the third place trophy, the Cardinal men will seek to claim their first NCAA title since 2003. Last year Stanford men reached as high as No.2 in the national poll and were a legitimate title contender. While this year's team is young, with not a single senior on the roster, they are a very talented and experienced group. Graduating seniors Garrett Heath and Hakon DeVries will be missed, but the Cardinal returns much of the talent that carried it to a high national finish last season as well as a number of very capable athletes returning from redshirt.

The new face of Cardinal men's distance running is Chris Derrick, who in just his first year of collegiate competition earned four All-America honors, set an American junior record and ran abroad as a member of the U.S. Junior National cross country team. A season after placing seventh at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, Derrick should be counted among the favorites for the NCAA individual title in 2009.

While Derrick is the standout, junior Elliott Heath and redshirt sophomore Jacob Riley should garner plenty of recognition as both are among the top collegiate distance runners in the nation. Heath earned a third place finish at the NCAA indoor meet in the 3,000 meters and then placed fifth in the NCAA outdoor 5K. He hopes to carry that success over into cross country where he showed promise with a 12th-place finish at the 2008 NCAA Pre-National meet. Riley is more of true long distance specialist, who is coming off a breakthrough season on the track. The eighth-place finisher in the NCAA 10,000 meters also had a strong initial cross country season in 2008. Riley just missed All-America honors in cross country after his 55th-place finish as Stanford's third runner at the NCAA Championships.

Also with significant postseason experience are junior Brendan Gregg, redshirt sophomore J.T. Sullivan and redshirt junior Justin Marpole-Bird. Gregg was Stanford's sixth runner for most of last season, highlighted by a 24th-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships and will look to take on a more significant role in 2009. Sullivan and Marpole-Bird have been NCAA Regional qualifiers on the track and have the ability to transfer their success to the cross country course.

Returning after redshirting last season are Dylan Ferris, Benjamin Johnson, Kevin Havel, Riley Sullivan and Miles Unterreiner. This group showed great promise during their high school careers and should be ready to contribute in 2009. Johnson is a Pac-10 Scorer and NCAA West Regional qualifier in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, while Ferris gained international experience this summer while placing 5th at the Pan American Junior Championships at 800m.

The Cardinal will be strengthened by an outstanding recruiting class. Evan Appel, Andrew Berberick, Ramsey Chapin, Thomas Porter, Tyler Stutzman, Ryan Valdes and Tyler Valdes make up this nationally heralded group.

The Stanford women, coming off three consecutive national championship teams, also were young in 2008. Despite its youth, the Cardinal was competitive and ended up eighth at the NCAA's. This season, the women's squad will once again be young, but having gained experience and should be ready to take a step forward and reclaim a spot on the NCAA podium.

Sophomore Laurynne Chetelat will be looked on to lead the women's team after a breakout freshman year. Chetelat led Stanford in all but one cross country race in 2008, highlighted by a first team All-Region selection with her ninth-place finish at the NCAA West Regional. She followed that with the first All-America honor of her young career during the indoor season with a seventh-place finish in the 3,000 meters and by running 15:43.31 in the 5,000m run outdoors, one of the top times ever by an American junior. She will be expected to continue to evolve into one of the nation's elite runners.

The veteran leadership for the Cardinal will come from the two athletes who contributed to Stanford's NCAA title run: Kate Niehaus, who ran for the 2006, and '07 national championship teams and Alexandra Gits who was a scoring member of the 2007 team. Niehaus is looking to build upon a strong 2008 track season where she was the MPSF champion in the indoor 5,000m and an NCAA outdoor qualifier in the 5,000m. Gits was hampered by injuries during the 2008 season, but will look to rebound to her freshman form when she was Stanford's fourth runner at the NCAA cross country meet and placed third at the NCAA outdoor championships in the 10,000m run.

Other key returners are a trio of sophomores who made an immediate impact during their initial season of cross country in 2008. Emilie Amaro and Georgia Griffin ran in the top five for much of the season as true freshmen, while Stephanie Marcy concluded the season as the fifth runner at the NCAA Championships as a redshirt freshman. All three were NCAA West Regional qualifiers in the 5,000 meters, while Amaro also went on to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Three others return to the deep Stanford squad including senior Madeleine O'Meara who was a NCAA Regional qualifier on the track and sophomore Claire Collison, both with postseason experience in cross country. Rounding out the returners is middle-distance specialist and sophomore Madeline Duhon who advanced to the final of the NCAA West Region at 1500m this past spring.

Also returning and adding great depth, but having yet to compete in cross country are redshirt freshmen Emma Miller-Bedell, Victoria Pennings, and Kristin Reese as well as junior Anne St. Geme.

The Cardinal will also welcome five freshmen to the Farm in California state champ Alex Dunne, Justine Fedronic, former Footlocker National Champion Kathy Kroeger, Maria Malone, and Hannah Varnell.

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