2010 Women's Track and Field Outlook
Jan. 29, 2010
The women's track and field team has become the complete program that Franklin P. Johnson Director of Track and Field Edrick Floreal envisioned when he took over almost a decade ago. The Cardinal is strong in every event group and should be competitive at both the conference and national levels. The distance program is still very strong, but the jumpers have also emerged into an elite group. An improved sprint group to go with a solid group of throwers gives Stanford its most complete team in years. Stanford also boasts a deep and talented freshmen class that should provide immediate results. 'Somehow the jumpers have really become the backbone of the program,' said Floreal. 'They scored over 40 points at the Pac-10 meet last year. Between Whitney Liehr, Arantxa King, Griffin Matthew, Brittni Dixon-Smith and now adding Karynn Dunne we have a group that has experience in the finals of the Pac-10 and MPSF meets and should be there again this season.'
The Cardinal should be much improved in the sprints, as they are healthy and welcome a strong freshmen class. Senior Griffin Matthew returns as the veteran of the group, having qualified for the last two NCAA Championships at 100 meters. Pushing Matthew will be junior Shataya Hendricks who with improved health is looking to return to the form that made her one of Stanford's top sprint recruits ever. In addition, freshman Carissa Levingston is looking like a talent that could be nationally competitive in her first year on The Farm. The Cardinal also has a solid group of 400 runners led by top returner Ashley Menzies. Whitney Liehr leads a solid group in the hurdles.
'Carissa Levingston has attracted the most attention so far,' said Floreal. 'Very rarely do you see an athlete come in and pick things up so quickly. She has probably improved from a D+ in mechanics to a B- in just a short time. Griffin Matthew is going to have a hell of a year, partially because of Carissa, being pushed by a freshman. Also, Shataya Hendricks finally has her health and her injuries figured out.'
The distance program has seen the graduation of several elite talents over the last couple of years with the most recent being Lauren Centrowitz and Alicia Follmar, who earned 12 All-America honors combined. However, the Cardinal continues to reload and 2010 will be no different. After battling injuries last year, junior Alex Gits will look to regain her 2008 form when she was an All-American at 10,000 meters as a freshman. The Cardinal also return a pair of NCAA qualifiers from a year ago in senior Kate Niehaus (5,000) and sophomore Emilie Amaro (steeplechase). The depth of the women's distance squad should be among the best in the nation with others such as: Stephanie Marcy (Stanford's No. 1 runner at the NCAA cross country meet), Georgia Griffin (2009 regional qualifier at 5K), Maria Lattanzi (All-American as a member of the distance medley relay) and a group of freshmen that should contribute immediately. Freshmen Alex Dunne and Kathy Kroeger have already proven to be nationally competitive in cross country, while Justine Fedronic should be a threat along with Lattanzi and Madeline Duhon in the middle distances.
'We are a little young, so they will need a little time to develop,' said Floreal. 'It will be interesting to see how fast they help, but they are good and we think it could be sooner rather than later.'
The emergence of the jumpers over the past several years has taken Stanford to a new level as a complete program. This year should be no different with several returners capable of All-America performances. 2008 Beijing Olympian Arantxa King returns after just missing her first All-America honor last year. She can compete with anyone in the country in both the long and triple jump. Whitney Liehr also returns having dropped the multi-events to concentrate on jumping and the hurdles. Liehr earned All-America status in the triple jump last season, despite limited time focusing on the event. Also returning is former national qualifier in the long jump, Griffin Matthew, as well as 2009 regional qualifiers Brittni Dixon-Smith (long jump) and Jordan Merback (triple jump). Joining the group is freshman Karynn Dunn who is yet another NCAA threat. In the high jump, freshman Elaine Patten will look to make an impact. In the pole vault, sophomore Katerina Stefanidi is already the best in Stanford history and should challenge for points at the NCAA's.
'Arantxa King is a whole different athlete this year, much healthier and much more motivated,' said Flroeal. 'We also added Elaine Patten in the high jump as well, in an area that has not scored the last couple of years. Katerina Stefanidi has come into her own this year after a year being away from home for the first time. She should contribute at the NCAA level.'
Two-time NCAA hammer qualifier Jaynie Goodbody will lead a solid group of throwers. Goodbody is looking to breakthrough at the NCAA meet this year as an All-American and team point scorer. Also returning is sophomore Molly Kinsella, who now has a year of experience under her belt. In addition, senior Liz Minoofar will compete in the javelin. Joining the group is freshman Nicole Heinl, who will provide depth
'Jaynie has a good chance of being an NCAA scorer,' said Floreal. 'She has a chance to win the Pac-10 meet in the hammer.'
Senior Kara Bennett will lead the small group of multi-event athletes. Bennett will be looking to break into the scoring places at the Pac-10 meet in the heptathlon. Joining Bennett is freshman Tiffany Tillett, who looks to have a bright future.
'This is an area that is a little light,' said Floreal. 'Kara Bennett is a senior and Tiffany Tillett shows tremendous potential, but maybe needs a year or so to be a significant contributor. Whitney Liehr will concentrate on jumps.'
TOMORROW | 5:00pm PTLive
TOMORROW | 8:00pm PTLive