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Surprise and No Surprise

May 16, 2021

LOS ANGELES – The Stanford women won two individual titles on the final day of the Pac-12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Sunday – one mostly expected and another that wasn't. 

The first of the two victories went to Ella Donaghu in the 1,500. Donaghu has been the most consistent and versatile runner in the conference this year, including cross country. Donaghu, a fifth-year senior, seemed to be in control throughout and wasn't truly threatened as she led Stanford to a 1-3-5 finish, clocking 4:15.43 to win her first Pac-12 title at any distance. 

But it was teammate Julia Heymach who provided the shocker, winning the 5,000 in a meet and stadium record time of 15:40.74. 

It's not as if Heymach, a junior in eligibility, wasn't capable of such a feat. She was 13th at the NCAA cross country championships and a solid No. 3 runner on that team for most of the season. But she definitely was a mystery and here are a few reasons why:

•    Heymach never raced 5,000 on the track before. 
•    Until Saturday's 800 prelim, she hadn't raced in nearly a month. 
•    She was second in the 800 final only 70 minutes earlier.
•    Did we mention that 800-5,000 single-day double?

In the 800, Heymach ran second nearly the entire race to Colorado's Sage Hurta, but clocked a huge personal best of 2:02.91, with Donaghu third in a PB of 2:04.42. Heymach's time placed her at No. 5 on Stanford's all-time performers' list, while Donaghu took the No. 8 spot. 

But Heymach soon returned to USC's Loker Stadium track to take the line in the 5,000. A junior in eligibility, Heymach never had run a track race, indoors or outdoors, longer than a mile. There were no prelims in the 5,000 and next to Heymach's name on the start list was an "NT" for "no time.". But as the race progressed, it was clear Heymach was running with a purpose.

Tucked deep into the pack, Heymach was sixth with 1,000 to go. That's when Oregon's Carmela Cardama Baez burst into the lead. Heymach responded by passing a series of runners on the homestretch and reached the shoulder of Cardama Baez with 800 to go. 

At the ball, Heymach whipped around the outside and quickly gapped the fading Oregon runner, increasing her lead to the finish. Heymach's closing 800 of 2:17.35 was the fastest in the field by 3 ½ seconds, and she was followed in eighth by Lucy Jenks (15:55.33), who posted her first sub-16 and became the third-fastest true freshman in school history. 

Heymach broke the meet record of 15:44.91 established by Arizona's Amy Skieresz in 1997 and the stadium record of 16:01.30 by the Santa Monica Track Club's Tania Fischer in 1998. 

Heymach joins six other Cardinal conference 5,000 champions: Elise Cranny (2018) in the Pac-12, Lauren Centrowitz (2009), Sara Bei (2004, 2005), and Lauren Fleshman (2002, 2003) in the Pac-10, and PattiSue Plumer (1984) and Alison Wiley (1983) in the Western Collegiate Athletic Association.

The Stanford women finished seventh as a team, scoring 64 points, and the Cardinal men were seventh with 59.


Ella Donaghu. Photo by Jenny Chuang for the Pac-12.

Donaghu ensured that Stanford would extend its streak of consecutive seasons with an individual champion to 24, the longest in the Pac-12. Donaghu has excelled mostly in the 5,000 this season, with the conference's top time going into the meet, but focused instead on the middle distances before she likely will return to the 5,000 for the NCAA West Prelims from May 26-29 in College Station, Texas. 

Donaghu preserved her energy by tucking into the inside lane throughout the race, finding room when Colorado's Micaela Degenero shot into the lead at the bell. Donaghu stayed with her and moved into the front with 200 to go. Finishing third was Stanford teammate Christina Aragon (4:16.10) and fifth was Jenks (4:17.22) with the first of her two PBs on the day – this one placed Jenks at No. 4 on Stanford's all-time freshman list in that event. 

Stanford's previous women's conference 1,500 champions: Cranny (2016) in the Pac-12, Arianna Lambie (2006, 2007), Sally Glynn (2001), and Melanie Bloch (1990) in the Pac-10, and Regina Jacobs (1985) and Plumer (1984) in the WCAA. 

The Stanford men got two big boosts from the field events – J.T. Herrscher was second in the pole vault and Keyshawn King was third in the triple jump. 


J.T. Herrscher. Photo by Kirby Lee/Image of Sport.

Herrscher, a freshman in eligibility, was perfect on his first three heights – at 15-5 ½ (4.71m), 16-3 ¼ (4.96m), and 16-7 ¼ (5.06m). By that time, only three were left in the competition. Washington's Chase Smith opened with a second-attempt clearance at 16-9 ¼ (5.11m), a height matched by UCLA's Kyle Brown on his first try. 

Herrscher passed to 16-11 (5.16m), needing three tries to clear. Smith and Brown both passed on that height, to 17-1 (5.21m). Herrscher and Brown each failed to clear, but Smith sneaked over on his third try. A miss would have given Herrscher the victory. 

In the triple jump, King was in danger of missing the finals, fouling on his first two jumps before salvaging a legal mark of 50-5 ½ (15.38m) to earn three more tries. Other than a Beamonesque improvement, King wasn't going to catch USC's Jordan Scott or Oregon's Emmanuel Ihemeje, who each reached 54-5 ½ (16.60m) in their early attempts. King was fifth until uncorking a 52-2 ½ (15.91m) effort on his fourth attempt to move into third and the first podium finish for the sophomore. 

Two days after his title in the 10,000, Stanford's Charles Hicks attempted to complete a long-distance double. In a repeat of their dual at the Pac-12 cross country championships, Colorado's Eduardo Herrera and Hicks were 1-2 before Oregon's Cole Hocker and Cooper Teare swung into the lead with two laps to go. 

Hicks was unable to keep pace and briefly dropped to fourth, but he regrouped enough to place third in 13:35.60, with Hocker winning in 13:32.68. Behind Hicks were five Stanford teammates. The fifth of those, 13th-place Meika Beaudoin-Rousseau, ran 13:52.77. That made Beaudoin-Rousseau the 10th different Stanford runner to break 14 minutes in the 5,000 this year. Three more on the roster did so in previous years, giving Stanford 13 in the sub-14 club. 

The next step is the NCAA West Prelims. The qualifying window ended Sunday and the selections -- 48 in individual events, 24 in relays – will be announced Tuesday. 
* * * 

Keyshawn King. Photo by Jenny Chuang for the Pac-12.

Pac-12 Championships
Sunday results (Day 3 of 3)
Winners and Stanford

Final Team scores -- 1, Oregon 185; 2, USC 137; 3, Washington 114; 4, Arizona State 72; 5, Arizona 67; 6, Washington State 61.5; 7, Stanford 59; 8, UCLA 46.5; 9, Colorado 42; 10, California 31.
800 – 1, Isaiah Jewett (USC) 1:45.16; 6, Miles Smith (Stanford) 1:49.53.
5,000 – 1, Cole Hocker (Oregon) 13:32.68; 3, Charles Hicks (Stanford) 13:35.60; 7, Callum Bolger (Stanford) 13:40.43; 9, Thomas Boyden (Stanford) 13:42.63 (PB; No. 5 Stanford frosh AT); 10, Alek Parsons (Stanford) 13:46.53; 11, Cole Sprout (Stanford) 13:46.83; 13, Meika Beaudoin-Rousseau (Stanford) 13:52.77 (PB); DJ Principe (Stanford) DNF. 
4x100 relay – 1, USC 39.65; 6, Stanford (Dorien Simon, Gabriel Navarro, Miles Zoltak, Andrew Franco) 40.63. 
4x400 relay – 1, USC 3:05.29; 6, Stanford (Miles Zoltak, Karson Lippert, Andrew Franco, Gabriel Navarro) 3:10.26. 
Pole vault – 1, Chase Smith (Washington) 17-1 (5.21m); 2, J.T. Herrscher (Stanford) 16-11 (5.16m); 5, Max Manson (Stanford) 16-3 ¼ (4.96m). 
Triple jump – 1, Jordan Scott (USC) 54-5 ½ (16.60m); 3, Keyshawn King (Stanford) 52-2 ½ (15.91m); 9, Kevin Yang (Stanford) 45-9 (13.94m); 10, Jerry Zheng (Stanford) 44-0 ¾ (13.43m).
Discus – 1, Elijah Mason (Washington) 189-1 (57.65m); 14, Max McKhann (Stanford) 158-4 (48.27m) (PB).  

Team scores
– 1, USC 162.5; 2, Oregon 151; 3 (tie), Arizona State and Washington, each 77; 5, Colorado 74.5; 6, UCLA 70; 7, Stanford 64; 8, Arizona 51.5; 9, California 48; 10, Oregon State 21; 11, Washington State 16.5; 12, Utah 6.
100 – 1, Twanisha Terry (USC) 11.10; 8, Alexa Rossum (Stanford) 11.59.
800 – 1, Sage Hurta (Colorado) 2:01.53; 2, Julia Heymach (Stanford) 2:02.91 (PB; No. 5 Stanford AT); 3, Ella Donaghu (Stanford) 2:04.42 (PB; No. 8 Stanford AT). 
1,500 – 1, Ella Donaghu (Stanford) 4:15.43; 2, 3, Christina Aragon (Stanford) 4:16.10; 5, Lucy Jenks (Stanford) 4:17.22 (PB; No. 4 Stanford frosh AT); 12, Jessica Lawson (Stanford) 4:25.30. 
5,000 – 1, Julia Heymach (Stanford) 15:40.74 (PB; meet record; stadium record); 8, Lucy Jenks (Stanford) 15:55.33 (PB; No. 4 Stanford frosh AT); 14, Grace Connolly (Stanford) 16:21.00; 17, Jessica Lawson (Stanford) 16:25.83. 
4x400 relay – 1, USC 3:30.41; 10, Stanford (Samantha Thomas, Alexa Rossum, Ellie Deligianni, Kaitlin Ryan) 3:48.70. 
High jump – 1, Morgan Smalls (USC) 6-0 (1.83m); Valerie Przekop (Stanford) NH.
Triple jump – 1, Dominique Ruotolo (Oregon) 44-9 ¾ (13.66m); 9, Aria Small (Stanford) 40-11 ½ (12.48m).
Discus – 1, Jorinde Van Klinken (Arizona State) 205-3 (62.58m); 12, Jaimi Salone (Stanford) 156-8 (47.77m).