2001 Cross Country Season Outlook
Men's Cross Country Outlook
Stanford, Calif. - Since the arrival of Director of Cross Country/Track & Field Vin Lananna nine years ago, the Stanford Men's Cross Country team has developed a reputation for excellence at Championship meets. It is at these high-caliber, elite events that the Cardinal runners annually display the talents that have made Stanford a dominant force in collegiate cross country. Whether at the NCAA Championships, West Regional Championships, or the Pac-10 Championships, a blur of Cardinal red can always be found near the front of the lead pack. The results from these championship events lay claim to Stanford's success. Cardinal teams have stood on the awards podium at the NCAA's for five consecutive years, including back-to-back title winning performances in 1996 and 1997. In addition, Stanford has won five straight West Regional Championships and four of the last five Pacific-10 Conference championship meets. In 2001, Stanford is prepared to add to its collection of cross country championship hardware and leading the way will be a slew of veteran All-Americans.
This fall, the Cardinal will have the luxury of filling its lineup with no fewer than five All-Americans, including 2000 Olympic semifinalist Gabe Jennings. Jennings, one of the most accomplished middle distance runners in recent college history, missed the 2000 cross country season after a late return from the Olympic Games in Sydney. Well-renowned for his 1,500 meter prowess, Jennings also possesses a 5,000 meter best of 13:44.60 making the 1997 U.S. Junior National Cross Country champion one of the most talented runners on the course. Junior Seth Hejny established himself as one of the premier cross country and middle distance runners in the U.S. last season and will add valuable NCAA championship meet experience to the Cardinal. Hejny is an indoor track and field All-American in the 3,000 meters and participated in the NCAA Cross Country Championships in both his freshman and sophomore years. A trio of sophomore All-Americans will benefit the Cardinal arsenal in 2001. Louie Luchini returns for his second season after competing as one of Stanford's top runners during the 2000 cross country campaign. Luchini, who owns the third fastest American Junior time ever in the 10,000 meters was Stanford's number four runner at last year's NCAA Championships. Like Luchini, fellow sophomores Grant Robison and Don Sage are returning from freshmen All-American seasons. Robison was one of Stanford's top three runners for most of the 2000 cross country season until a late season injury cut his year short. However, Robison recovered for the 2001 track season and finished seventh in the NCAA 5,000 meters for his first All-American award. Sage, the 2000 Pac-10 Cross Country Newcomer of the Year, was the top freshman middle distance runner in the nation last year. Sage was the number three runner for the Cardinal at last year's NCAA Cross Country Championships. On the track, Sage set a freshman school record in the 1,500 meters with a time of 3:39.27 while finishing fifth at the NCAA's in Eugene, OR.
'Our returning five All-Americans will undoubtedly be the leaders of this team,' says Director of Cross Country/Track and Field Vin Lananna. 'They each have experience competing at the championship level and they understand what it takes to be one of the top finishing teams at the NCAA's. I like our chances to do well at the Pac-10 and NCAA Championships with these five young men toeing the starting line for Stanford.'
For the first time in four years, the Cardinal will be without the services of Jonathon Riley, a four time cross country All-American and the 2000 Pac-10 Cross Country Athlete of the Year. However, as usual for any Cardinal cross country team, an extremely deep and talented group of runners will be available to fill the void. Junior Andy Powell was a member of Stanford's past two NCAA cross country fourth place teams. Powell was a redshirt last track season. In 2000 he had the fastest freshman 1,500 meter time in the nation. Sophomore Ian Dobson competed at the 2000 NCAA Cross Country Championships and later finished third at the U.S. Winter Cross Country Nationals to earn a spot on the U.S. Junior World Cross Country team that competed in Ostende, Belgium. Dobson is the reigning U.S. Junior National champion in the 5,000 meters. Freshman Chris Emme redshirted the 2000 cross country season, but won the 10,000 meters at the U.S. Junior National Track and Field Championships in Richmond, VA. Emme finished sixth in the junior men's 8,000 meter race at the U.S. Winter Cross Country Nationals. Juniors Daniel Parris and Adam Tenforde made the trip to Ames, IA last season for the NCAA Championships and were a part of Stanford's top seven throughout the majority of the season. Parris finished in the top six overall in four races last season, including a third place finish at the Stanford Invitational. Tenforde is a NCAA qualifier in the 10,000 meters. Pac-10 3,000 meter steeplechase champion Jesse Thomas emerged as one of the top steeplechasers in the country last track and field season with a best time of 8:45.54. Thomas saw extensive cross country action last season and was a member of Stanford's winning NCAA Cross Country West Regional team. Sophomore Isaac Hawkins returned from a Mormon mission last year and was a Pac-10 qualifier in the 5,000 meters. Hawkins participated in only a few cross country races last season, but look for the Spokane, WA native to return to the form that made him a two-time Footlocker finalist in high school. Senior Jamey Gifford enters his final season with the Cardinal as a two-time NCAA Cross Country participant. Gifford was the number five runner for Stanford at the 1998 and 1999 NCAA Championships and his experience will be a valuable asset. Add the talents of Tyson Hendricksen, Andrew Hill, Steve Loughlin, Sean Knapp, Joe Urbanski, and Phillip West and the Cardinal have a solid nucleus returning for the 2001 cross country season.
Coaches Lananna and Reilly have good reason to be optimistic about the newcomers in 2001. Stanford's freshman class is bolstered by four Footlocker Cross Country National finalists, including Ryan Hall from Big Bear, CA. Hall closed out his high school career as one of the most successful runners ever in California prep history. As a senior, Hall ran 3:42.70 in the 1,500 meters at the Peregrine Systems U.S. Open, the third fastest metric mile ever by a high school runner. In cross country Hall shattered the long standing course record at the prestigious Mt SAC Invitational when he covered the hilly three mile course in 14:28.30. Montana native David Vidal had one of the top high school mile times in the nation last season. New Yorkers Seton McAndrews and Justin Romaniuk will add some East Coast flavor to the Cardinal in 2001. McAndrews is the 2001 New York state champion in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters while Romaniuk is a former state cross country champion. 'This group of freshmen could be one of the most solid distance classes we have ever had at Stanford,' says Coach Reilly.
With at least a dozen runners with NCAA and Pac-10 Championship meet experience, the 2001 Stanford Cross Country team will again contend for titles at these meets. The combination of accomplished veteran runners and promising newcomers will bode well for the Cardinal this season and in future years assuring that Stanford remains one of the elite collegiate cross country programs in the country.
Women's Cross Country Outlook
After finishing third or better at the NCAA Country Championships every year since 1996, first in four of the last five NCAA West Regionals, and first at the Pac-10 Championships for five consecutive years, the Stanford Cross Country women have developed their own reputation for excellence at championship meets. Since Coach Vin Lananna arrived in 1992, America's top young distance runners have annually enrolled at Stanford enabling the Cardinal to be major players at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Stanford's system of reloading and developing young talent will hold true for the 2001 season as one of the most heralded freshmen classes joins an existing group of successful All-American women.
Undoubtedly, two of the nation's top women harriers, juniors Lauren Fleshman and Erin Sullivan will be the leaders for Stanford in 2001. In just two years on The Farm, Fleshman has already established herself as one of the most accomplished runners in Stanford history. In fact, Fleshman has been named All-American in every cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track season since arriving at Stanford in the fall of 1999. Fleshman capped the 2001 outdoor track and field season by winning the 5,000 meters at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, OR. Indoors, Fleshman finished third in the mile at the NCAA Championships. Fleshman finished fourth at the 1999 NCAA Cross Country Championships and was eleventh last year. 'Lauren Fleshman is such a versatile runner that she is capable of winning an NCAA Championship in any race above 1500 meters, including the individual title in cross country. It's a huge bonus for our team to be led by such a talented runner like Lauren,' says Director of Track and Field/Cross Country Vin Lananna.
Sullivan is also a two time cross country All-American after finishing seventh at the NCAA's as a freshman and 25th last season. Sullivan's successful performances at championship meets will be a tremendous asset to the Cardinal this year. As the 1999 Pac-10 Cross Country individual champion, Sullivan became just the second frosh in Pac-10 history and the first Stanford athlete ever to win the conference crown. In high school, Sullivan won back-to-back Footlocker National Cross Country Championships.
Coaches Vin Lananna and Dena Evans will have the luxury of filling the Cardinal lineup with a number of talented runners with championship experience. All-American Caroline Annis returns for her senior season with hopes of guiding the Cardinal to the NCAA awards podium for the sixth consecutive year. Annis, who is also a NCAA qualifier in the 10,000 meters, has played a significant role in championship cross country races since her freshman year. With Annis in the lineup, Stanford has won four consecutive Pac-10 Championships. Junior Mariel Ettinger has been a member of Stanford's past two third place NCAA cross country teams. In 2000, Ettinger was the number five runner for the Cardinal at the NCAA's in Ames, IA. Senior Laura Turner returns from the 2001 track season in which she developed into one of the best steeplechasers in the country. Turner, who has made the trip to the NCAA Cross Country Championships each year at Stanford, was a finalist in the 3000 meter steeplechase at the NCAA's and the USATF Championships. At the conclusion of the 2000 cross country season, sophomore Victoria Chang was voted the Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year. Chang was a consistent high finisher for the Cardinal last season, including a fifth place overall placing at the conference meet. Chang was also a member of the 2001 U.S. Junior World Cross Country team that competed in Ostend, Belgium.Junior Malindi Elmore was a NCAA automatic qualifier in the 1,500 meters in 2001. During the 2000 cross country season, Elmore was a member of Stanford's winning Pac-10 Championship squad.
With the addition of All-American middle distance runner Lindsay Hyatt, senior Pac-10 Qualifier Colleen Flaherty, sophomore Katherine Hoffman, and junior Katie Hotchkiss, the returning Stanford cross country cast for the 2001 season is well prepared to continue its streak of strong finishes at championship meets.
Members of the Cardinal freshman class arrive on The Farm with very successful high school careers tucked away and unlimited collegiate potential waiting to develop. Anita Siraki, Sara Bei, and Alicia Craig, three of the top senior prep distance runners headline the 2001 class. Bei, from Santa Rosa, CA was the 2000 Footlocker National Cross Country champion. She is the only California prep to win four state cross country individual titles. During the 2001 track season, Bei won the California High School State Meet 3200 meter title for the third time in her prep career. Southern Californian Siraki, was the 2000 runner-up at the Footlocker National Cross Country Championships to fellow Stanford freshman Bei. Siraki won back-to-back Division I California state cross country championships and consecutive National Scholastic two-mile titles. Siraki led the nation in the 3,200 meters as senior with a best of 10:08.94. Craig is a two-time Wyoming state cross country champion. At the 2001 U.S. Winter Cross Country National Championships, Craig finished third in the junior women's race to qualify for the World Junior Cross Country Championships in Ostend, Belgium where she was the top American finisher. Craig won the 2001 Golden West mile and finished third as a junior at the Footlocker Cross Country Nationals. Oregonian Jeanne Goff was the state cross country and 1,500 meter champion as a high school senior.
'This year's freshmen class should be able to contribute immediately towards our championship goals,' says Coach Evans. 'Combine these newcomers to our returning veterans and I think we have a nice balance of talent that will allow us to be competitive at the highest levels.' With that said, look for Stanford's success at championship cross country meets to continue in 2001 and for future years as well.