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A Stanford Sweep

Mar 5, 2021

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – Stanford's men and women swept the team titles at the Pac-12 Cross Country Championships on Friday for the first time since 2010. 

Stanford was led by second-place finishes by Ella Donaghu for the women and Charles Hicks for the men on the way to dominant twin victories on a cold and windy day. It was the highest finish in a collegiate race for Hicks, in cross country and on the track. 

The men placed five among the top nine to score 28 points to 60 for second-place Colorado. It was Stanford's third Pac-12 title in three years and 15th in history. Stanford's point total was its fewest since 2010.

The Cardinal women earned their 22nd conference championship and 17th in the Pac-12. Stanford placed three in the top four – Donaghu, Zofia Dudek, and Julia Heymach – and five in the top 12, and six in the top 17. Stanford scored 30 points to 50 for second-place Colorado.

Stanford's combined points of 58 was its fewest in this meet since a combined 45 in sweeping the 2003 Pac-10 championships. 

Keep in mind that Stanford did not meet as a team until Feb. 4, the day it flew to Tallahassee to compete in the Florida State Winter Classic the next day. That was after each runner arrived and quarantined for 10 days. Stanford reported later than perhaps any major program because of severe COVID-19 restrictions in Santa Clara County. 

The Cardinal also had to rebuild to some extent in both programs because it graduated its top runners from last season -- Pac-12 individual women's champion Fiona O'Keeffe and the men's top three of Alex Ostberg, Thomas Ratcliffe, and Steven Fahy.

"It was a spectacular effort," said J.J. Clark, Stanford's second-year Franklin P. Johnson Director of Track and Field, and head cross country coach. "We had great performances from both sides. With all that we've gone through this year, it was great to see."

The individual races shaped up quite differently. For the women, Washington's Haley Herberg immediately took a lead of more than 50 meters and held it until the latter stages when Donaghu and Dudek made a hard push to shorten the gap.

Donaghu caught Herberg with about 200 meters to go, but the Washington runner had enough left to fend off the surge and won going away. It was Donaghu's second consecutive runner-up finish at Pac-12's. 

Donaghu was clocked in 19:09.0 over the 6-kilometer course at Chambers Creek Park. Dudek was next in 19:14.9, Heymach was fourth in 19:21.9, Jessica Lawson was ninth in 19:41.9. Stanford also got strong performances from Christina Aragon, running her first race of the season, in 12th, and true freshman Lucy Jenks in 17th in 20:02.6. This is only the second season ever of cross country for Jenks, who played soccer through most of high school.

For the Stanford men, Stanford had numbers in the front pack early on, but it turned into a two-man race between Hicks, a redshirt freshman, and Colorado's Eduardo Herrera. They ran side by side until the last of the four 2K laps before Herrera surged into a big lead. 

Hicks crossed the line in the 8K (4.97-mile) race in 22:41.6. True freshman Cole Sprout was fourth in 22:57.9, and Alek Parsons was fifth. 

Ky Robinson, a true freshman from Brisbane, Australia, was a surprising eighth -- he hadn't been higher than the ninth runner the team until Friday. Robinson was timed in 23:03.9. With Devin Hart in 14th, Stanford had four freshmen in eligibility among the top 14 – Hicks, Sprout, Robinson, and Hart. And a fifth freshman, Thomas Boyden, was 26th. 

Callum Bolger ran to a strong ninth and DJ Principe was in 15th, giving the Cardinal seven of the top 15. 

"We've been getting better every meet," Clark said. "Since our first time together, on the plane for Florida only a month ago, we've been pulling together really well. They have the determination and will to get better and work together and not give up. That's been the key to our success."

Because there are no regionals this season, a committee will select 31 teams in each gender to the NCAA Championships March 15 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The selections will be announced Sunday at 10 a.m. PT on
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Pac-12 Championships
At Chambers Creek Park
University Place, Wash.

Men (8K, 4.97 miles)
Team: 1, Stanford 28; 2, Colorado 60; 3, Washington 66; 4, Oregon 139; 5, UCLA 164; 6, Washington State 171; 7, California 177; 8, Arizona 201; 9, Arizona State 238.
Individuals: 1, Eduardo Herrera (Colorado) 22:30.9; 2, Charles Hicks (Stanford) 22:41.6; 4, Cole Sprout (Stanford) 22:57.9; 5, Alek Parsons (Stanford) 22:59.0; 8, Ky Robinson (Stanford) 23:03.9; 9, Callum Bolger (Stanford) 23:04.6; 14, Devin Hart (Stanford) 23:16.3; 15, DJ Principe (Stanford) 23:17.6; 26, Thomas Boyden (Stanford) 23:38.9; 29, Michael Vernau (Stanford) 23:45.9; 34, Evan Burke (Stanford) 23:56.7.

Women (6K, 3.73 miles)
1, Stanford 30; 2, Colorado 50; 3, Washington 85; 4, Oregon State 100; 5, Utah 165; 6, Washington State 165; 7, California 192; 8, Arizona 201; 9, Arizona State 261; 10, UCLA 297.
Individuals: 1, Haley Herberg (Washington) 19:02.5; 2, Ella Donaghu (Stanford) 19:09.0; 3, Zofia Dudek (Stanford) 19:14.9; 4, Julia Heymach (Stanford) 19:21.9; 9, Jessica Lawson (Stanford) 19:41.9; 12, Christina Aragon (Stanford) 19:54.6; 17, Lucy Jenks (Stanford) 20:02.6; 35, Grace Connolly (Stanford) 20:44.0; 45, Tori Starcher (Stanford) 20:57.4.