Olympic Hopefuls Set to Compete at the Cardinal Track and Field Invitational

April 30, 2004

LIVE Commentary

In its ninth year, the Cardinal Invitational has developed into one of the premier track and field meets in the United States. Many of the top international, American and collegiate athletes are scheduled to compete Friday evening before an anticipated sold-out Cobb Track and Angell Field stadium. This evening, the stakes will be higher as many of the athletes competing tonight will attempt to achieve the 'A' qualifying standards for the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Tonight's middle distance and distance events will be arranged to provide the competitors an opportunity to get one step closer to their Olympic aspirations.

A yearly highlight of the Cardinal Invitational is the men's and women's Kim McDonald Memorial 10,000 meters. In successive years, the men's and women's American records were set at Stanford in this event. In 2002, Deena Drossin ran an American record time of 30:52.32 crushing Lynn Jennings' previous record of 31:19.89. Japan's Yoko Shibui won the race in a Japanese record time of 30:48.89. In 2001, Meb Keflezighi set an American record (27:13.98) in the men's 10,000 meters at the Cardinal Invitational and race winner Abraham Chebii of Kenya ran the fastest 10,000 meters ever on American soil with a time of 27:04.20.

Keflezighi returns to The Farm tonight to compete in the 2004 Kim McDonald Memorial men's 10,000 meters. At the recent USA 8K Championships in New York, Keflezighi ran a course and championship record time only two weeks after finishing first at the USA 15K Championships. Keflezighi also finished second at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in February to secure a spot in the Athens Olympic Games. With the entries of American 5000 meter record holder Bob Kennedy, 2000 Olympians Abdi Abdirahman and Brad Hauser, 2004 USA 10 mile champion Dan Browne and Stanford's Ian Dobson and Louis Luchini, tonight's 10,000 meter field will be one of the best assembled in the United States. Seven of the top ten ranked American 10,000 meter runners from 2003 are scheduled to tour the Cobb Track oval for the 25-lap race. Pushing the American athletes will be a number of international 10,000 meter specialists, including a group of sub-28:00 runners from Japan and Thomas Kiplitan of Kenya. Tonight's competitors will be aiming for the Olympic 'A' standard of 27:49.00.

Sally Barsosio of Kenya leads the list of entries in tonight's Kim McDonald Memorial women's 10,000 meters. Barsosio, who owns a best of 31:15.38, finished tenth at the 2004 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in February after placing second at the Kenyan National Championships. A trio of British women, including former NCAA champion Kathy Butler, Natalie Harvey and Haley Yelling will challenge Barsosio in the 10,000 meters. Butler is a 2000 Olympian and is a multi-time British national team member. Expect Rosemary Ryan and Marie Davenport of Ireland, the United States' Katie McGregor, twins Katie and Laura O'Neill, and 2003 NCAA 10,000 meter champion Alicia Craig of Stanford to mix things up with the leaders. Tonight's competitors will be aiming for the Olympic 'A' standard of 31:45.00.

Another highlight of the evening will be the women's 5000 meters where athletes will be chasing the Olympic 'A' standard of 15:08.70. Leading the list of entries and making her debut at Stanford's Cobb Track and Angell Field is the legendary Sonia O'Sullivan. O'Sullivan was the 2000 Olympic silver medalist in the 5000 meters and is a multi-time world and European champion in track and cross country. O'Sullivan owns a career best of 14:41.02. Courtney Babcock set the Canadian national record in the 5000 meters in 2004 and will provide plenty of pressure to the lead pack. Australia's Georgie Clarke owns the fastest time in the world in the 1500 meters in 2004, but will focus on the 5000 meters tonight. Look for Americans Shayne Culpepper, Carrie Tollefson, Elva Dryer and Lauren Fleshman as candidates for top honors in this race. Culpepper and Dryer are 2000 Olympians whose names can be found annually near the top of the U.S. rankings. Culpepper captured the bronze medal in the 3000 meters at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in March. Fleshman, a 2003 Stanford graduate, was a five-time NCAA Champion for the Cardinal, including three consecutive NCAA titles in the 5000 meters from 2001-03.

Alistair Cragg of the University of Arkansas headlines a stellar field in the men's 5000 meters. Cragg is the reigning NCAA champion in the 5000 meters and in March captured NCAA indoor titles in the 3000 and 5000 meters. Cragg is widely considered one of the most talented middle distance runners in NCAA history and is a threat to win any race he enters. Former Arkansas All-American Daniel Lincoln is scheduled to compete. Lincoln was the 2003 NCAA outdoor champion in the 10,000 meters and 3000 meter steeplechase. Steve Slattery, the 2003 U.S. champion in the 3000 meter steeplechase, will toe the starting line along with Chad Johnson and Luke Watson, who were two of the top 5000 meter runners in the United States in 2003. The Olympic 'A' standard that these athletes will be chasing is 13:21.50.

Stanford University was a significant contributor to the U.S. Olympic team in the 1500 meters in 2000 when Gabe Jennings and Michael Stember finished first and third at the Olympic Trials and were semifinalists in Sydney. Stember will headline tonight's 1500 meters along with fellow Stanford graduate Jason Lunn, the 2003 U.S. Outdoor champion in this event. Joining Stember and Lunn will be current Stanford students Grant Robison and Donald Sage, the 2003 and 2002 NCAA champions in the 1500 meters, respectively. In 2003, Robison had the second fastest time by an American athlete in the 1500 meters at 3:35.75. California graduate Bolota Asmerom has run well early this year as has Mexico's Alejandro Suarez and Nathan Robison of BYU, the 1500 meter champion at the Mt. SAC Relay two weeks ago. The Olympic 'A' standard is 3:36.20.

In the women's 1500 meters, the United States' Nicole Teter and Canada's Malindi Elmore will battle for bragging rights. Elmore, a 2003 Stanford graduate, defeated Teter in the 1500 meters two weeks ago at the Mt. SAC Relays with the second fastest time in the world (4:09.73). Teter is the American Indoor record holder at 800 meters and was ranked third in the world in the half-mile in 2002. Teter owns a personal best of 4:04.19 in the 1500 meters. Canadian Leah Pells is a two-time Olympian and owns a career best of 4:03.56 in the 1500 meters. Former multi-time Stanford All-American Sally Hauser will use her familiarity with the Cobb Track and Angell oval to place herself in contention for tonight's 1500 meter title. The women's 1500 meter Olympic 'A' standard is 4:05.80.

American record holder Briana Shook of the University of Toledo leads a talented field in the women's 3000 meter steeplechase. At the 2003 USA Outdoor Championships at Stanford, Shook set a Cobb Track record with her winning time of 9:44.71. Kassi Anderson and Michaela Mannova, the 2003 and 2002 NCAA Champions in the 3000 meter steeplechase will represent Brigham Young University. Former 3000 meter steeplechase American Record holder Elizabeth Jackson will also be a significant factor in the outcome of the race.

The United States' Floyd Thompson and Australia's Suzy Walsham will lead the men's and women's 800 meters. Thompson finished fourth at the 2003 USA Outdoor Championships in a season best time of 1:46.48. Walsham owns a personal best of 2:02 and has run strong early this season.

Tonight's event is a precursor to the IAAF Grand Prix II U.S. Open scheduled for Stanford's Cobb Track and Angell Field on May 31. The 2004 USA Olympic Trials will be held in Sacramento in July.

Field events are scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m. and running events will start at 4:00 p.m. The high performance middle distance and distance events will begin at 6:25 p.m.

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