No. 1 Stanford Men Take West Regional Title, No. 14 Women Third
Nov. 14, 2009
Eugene, Ore. - The No. 1 men's cross country team continued their dominant run through the 2009 season by winning the West Regional Championship on Saturday morning at the Springfield Country Club. The title gives the Stanford men an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships in nine days. The No. 14 women also had a strong showing, finishing third and setting themselves up for an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships.
The Stanford men swept the top three places on their way to just 27 points. Second place Portland finished with 84, while Oregon had 109 in third. Stanford managed the result despite holding out Jacob Riley, who placed sixth at the Pac-10 Championships.
'We are very happy to make it through,' said head coach Jason Dunn. 'It is a very good result with us holding out Jake (Riley). This prepares us well for nationals.'
The title is the 11th NCAA West Regional championship for the Cardinal men and the first since 2004.
The Cardinal had five runners in the lead pack, which stuck together for most of the race. However, Chris Derrick and Elliott Heath eventually stretched out the field to finish first and second in nearly identical times.
Derrick took the regional title to remain undefeated on the season. His 10,000-meter time of 30:38.84 was just a tick ahead of Heath who finished at 30:38.96. Derrick will enter the NCAA meet as the favorite for the individual title, but Heath has proven he could be in the mix as well.
'We wanted to run hard, but definitely not go too crazy right before the nationals,' said Derrick. 'It was a pretty slow race. It was muddy and sticky. In conditions like that I like to be up in front. I had a nice smooth acceleration at the end.'
Finishing strong to place third was Justin Marpole-Bird with a time of 30:42.20. Marpole-Bird out-kicked Scott Smith of UC Santa Barbara and Tommy Betterbed of Portland to complete the Stanford sweep of the top three places.
Marpole-Bird continued his breakthrough this season with an outstanding result in his first-ever 10k.
'Everyone has improved this season, but nobody has improved more than Justin,' said Dunn. 'It is pretty impressive some of the individuals he beat considering it is his first 10k.'
Also with a top-10 finish for the Cardinal was Brendan Gregg, who placed 10th with a time of 30:57.20. Gregg ran with the lead pack though 8k and hung on for his best ever finish in a championship race.
Redshirt freshman Miles Unterreiner rounded out the scoring for Stanford, placing 13th with a time of 31:02.45.
The Stanford women finished with 94 points, trailing No. 1 Washington with 25 points and No. 5 Oregon with 66. The Cardinal welcomed the return of Kathy Kroeger and Kate Niehaus, but were without Alexandra Gits who was a last minute scratch.
'It was nice to get a few girls back from injury,' said Dunn. 'We should be in a good position to get through to nationals.'
Stephanie Marcy led the Stanford women with her ninth-place finish. The reliable Stanford redshirt sophomore finished with a time of 21:09.67 as she was the team's No.1 runner for the first time in her career.
Freshman Alex Dunne returned from a difficult Pac-10 race to finish 15th with a time of 21:21.08. Dunne was one of four Stanford women to earn All-Region honors.
The Cardinal lineup was bolstered by the return of Niehaus and Kroeger who had not raced since the Stanford Invitational back in September. Niehaus placed 17th with a time of 21:24.65, while Kroeger was 19th with a time of 21:27.74.
O'Meara battled back after losing her shoe in the beginning of the race. The Stanford veteran was forced to stop and put her shoe back on dropping her all the way into last place gapped from the field. However, O'Meara moved up throughout the race and nearly scored for the Cardinal.
Kristin Reese completed the Stanford squad in 102nd with a time of 22:59.65. Reese found out just 15 minutes before the race that she would be running in the place of Gits.
The Cardinal women will now await their fate, but should be a good bet to move through the NCAA's as an at large.
The NCAA Cross Country Championships will take place Monday, Nov. 23, from Terre Haute, Ind. The Stanford men will be looking to claim their fifth NCAA title and first since 2003. The women should be back at full strength and ready to end the season with their best race of the year.