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Card Gets Down to Business

Apr 3, 2021

STANFORD, Calif. – In a normal season, the Stanford Invitational would be a rustbuster, the chance for the Cardinal track and field team to rub the sleep out of its eyes and begin to focus on the outdoor season. 

This weekend's version was that, but so much more. In this COVID-influenced year, the big events that teams usually depend on to earn marks that will get them into the NCAA Prelims are nonexistent or scaled down. For instance, the Payton Jordan Invite and Cardinal Classic, two home meets used for just such a need will not take place this year. 

The best opportunities are unknown. Coaches are trying to figure out the strategies of where and when to shoot for the best meets to achieve those marks. The NCAA Prelims, after all, is the gateway to the NCAA Championships – the ultimate goal.

To J.J. Clark, Stanford's Franklin P. Johnson Director of Track and Field, there is no room for a rustbuster, not even on the first weekend of April. 

"We wanted to qualify people to the regional meet," he said. "Whatever opportunity you get, you have to run with it. We have to qualify, that's the position that we're in. Every meet is important. We can't waste any meets because it's something to do or get in shape. We have to make the best of every meet that we have."

After Friday night's strong across-the-board performances by the Cardinal distance runners, Stanford had several other efforts that illustrated Clark's point. The prime example came from triple jump Keyshawn King. 

Two weeks after jumping to a personal best at Sacramento State's Hornet Invitational, King improved upon that by coming within two centimeters of the Stanford school record. On his first attempt at the Stanford Invitational on Saturday, King reached 52-6 (16.00 meters), coming within ¾ of an inch of the school outdoor record of 52-6 ¾ (16.02m) set in 2014 by three-time Pac-12 champ Darian Brooks.

The mark stood, winning the competition and firmly establishing King, a junior, at No. 2 all-time at Stanford. 

"He's starting to figure out the little things and is really beginning to trust himself," said Stanford jumps coach Arthur "Iggy" Ignaczak. "Today was the most relaxed and loose I've seen him. It's part of something we've been trying to harness."

As for the school record … "that will come," Ignaczak said. "Keyshawn just keeps doing what is asked and has a humble chip on his shoulder. We're trying to elevate Stanford Track and Field to a place it hasn't ventured before and he's a key part of it."

King's was just part of big day for Cardinal triple jumpers. In the women's event, Ellie Talius, a sophomore in her first collegiate outdoor season, and teammate Aria Small matched jumps of 41-1 ½ (12.53m), but Talius was awarded the victory by having a farther second-best jump, of 40-10 ¼ (12.45m). Talius had never reached 40 feet until this outdoor season, and has done it in both meets.

"Ellie just shows up every single day and put in 100 percent every single day," Ignaczak said. "She's never satisfied and I'm curious to know where 'OK, that was good,' is. She's made substantial improvements so far this year and it's all a testament to her grit and determination."


Samantha Thomas. Photo by John P. Lozano/

The young talent is shaping the Cardinal now, not just in some obscure future scenario: True freshman Samantha Thomas won the women's 400 hurdles in 1:01.85, and true freshman Ellie Deligianni won the 800 in 2:08.31. 

This follows Friday night's frosh tour de force when Cole Sprout and Charles Hicks – each making their collegiate outdoor debuts – won the 5,000 and 10,000, respectively, in fast times. Sprout, who ran 13:43.92, was among five freshmen among seven Stanford teammates to break 14 minutes in the 5,000. And Hicks stamped himself at No. 6 all-time at Stanford with a 28:25.29 in the 10,000. 

About the freshmen impact, "It's even better than we could have hoped for," Sprout said. "It's super cool seeing how young the team is and how much life we have and how much development we still have to pursue. And having the older guys mentor us and get us into the space to shape the team once their gone is really special and definitely a blessing." 

Not all the talent is new. Christina Aragon, a fifth-year senior and six-time All-American, proved she is back near her best after missing the 2019 season with an injury. She closed to a strong second in the 1,500, running 4:17.56 to edge teammate Julia Heymach, in 4:17.82. 

This followed fifth-year senior Ella Donaghu's impressive 15:36.52 in her victorious 5,000 debut on Friday. 

Asked what struck him most after having his full squad compete outdoors for the first time in his two-year coaching tenure on The Farm, Clark said, "Our depth and our youth."

Stanford is off to a good start in its effort to get those qualifying marks. After all, every meet counts. 


Christina Aragon. Photo by John P. Lozano/
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Saturday's results
Stanford Invitational
At Cobb Track and Angell Field
– 1, Kenroy Higgins (UCLA) 10.69; 2, Dorien Simon (Stanford) 10.74.
200 – 1, Evan Mafilas (Washington) 21.01; 2, Gabriel Navarro (Stanford) 21.27; 4, Andrew Franco (Stanford) 21.61; 6, Dorien Simon (Stanford) 21.76; 12, Karson Lippert (Stanford) 22.60.
400 – 1, Henry Larkin (Cal) 47.00; 3, Gabriel Navarro (Stanford) 47.57; 4, Miles Zoltak (Stanford) 47.80; 7, Andrew Franco (Stanford) 48.34.
800 – 1, Garrett MacQuiddy (Cal) 1:50.42; 5, Miles Smith (Stanford) 1:52.87.
1,500 – 1, Sam Gilman (Air Force) 3:45.53; 9, Liam Conway (Stanford) 3:50.32.
110 hurdles – 1, Julian Body (Washington) 14.18; 4, Jack Herkert (Stanford) 14.71.
400 hurdles – 1, Jonathan Birchman (Washington) 54.26.
4x100 relay – 1, UCLA 40.35.
4x400 relay – 1, UCLA 3:10.31; 2, Stanford (Miles Zoltak, Gabriel Navarro, Andrew Franco, Karson Lippert) 3:13.73.
High jump – 1, Jason Smith (Long Beach State) 7-2 ½ (2.20m); 4, James Stevens (Stanford) 6-4 ¾ (1.95m); 6, Allan Hunter (Stanford) 6-0 ¾ (1.85m).
Pole vault – 1, Kyle Brown (UCLA) 15-9 (4.80m); 2, J.T. Herrscher (Stanford) 15-9 (4.80m); 3, Max Manson (Stanford) 15-3 (4.65m).
Triple jump – 1, Keyshawn King (Stanford) 52-6 (16.00m); 3, Kevin Yang (Stanford) 46-9 (14.25); 4, Jerry Zheng (Stanford) 44-8 (13.61m).
Shot put – 1, Matthew Katnik (USC) 63-5 ½ (19.34m).
Discus – 1, Christian Sonnenberg (Utah State) 176-7 (53.83m); 8, Max Mckhann (Stanford) 45.62m); Mason Mckhann (Stanford) foul.

– 1, Ezinne Abba (Cal) 11.53w; 4, Alexa Rossum (Stanford) 11.73w; 5, Kennedy Gamble (Stanford) 11.96w.
200 – 1, Makenzy Pierre-Webster (UCLA) 23.80; 8, Kennedy Gamble (Stanford) 24.64.
400 – 1, Meleni Rodney (UCLA) 53.37.
800 – 1, Ellie Deligianni (Stanford) 2:08.31; 3, Morgan Foster (Stanford) 2:12.18; 4, Carolyn Wilson (Stanford) 2:12.61; 9, Sarah Walker (Stanford) 2:18.30.
1,500 – 1, Alli Cash (unat.) 4:16.41; 2, Christina Aragon (Stanford) 4:17.56; 3, Julia Heymach (Stanford) 4:17.82; 11, Tori Starcher (Stanford) 4:28.20; 12, Lily Flynn (Stanford) 4:28.32; 13, Ellie Deligianni (Stanford) 4:28.46; 23, Kaitlin Ryan (Stanford) 4:43.12; 25, Alex Stout (Stanford) 4:57.71.
100 hurdles – 1, Deshae Wise (Cal) 13.34.
400 hurdles – 1, Samantha Thomas (Stanford) 1:01.85.
4x100 relay – 1, UCLA 44.49. 
4x400 relay – 1, UCLA 3:44.30.
High jump – 1, Audrey Garrett (Utah State) 5-7 ¾ (1.72m).
Triple jump – 1, Ellie Talius (Stanford) 41-1 ½w (12.53m), 40-10 ¼ (12.45m); 2, Aria Small (Stanford) 41-1 ½ (12.53m). 
Shot put – 1, Alyssa Wilson (UCLA) 52-4 (15.95m); 7, Allie Jones (Stanford) 36-10 ¼ (11.23m).
Discus – 1, Karlee Freeman (USC) 171-9 (52.36m); 10, Jordan Fong (Stanford) 130-10 (39.89m).

Main photo: Jack Herkert. Photo by John P. Lozano/