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Going for Glory

Jun 12, 2021

EUGENE, Ore. – Ella Donaghu closed out her Stanford career with two more All-America honors, placing third in the 1,500 and 12th in the 5,000 an hour and 40 minutes later. 

In all, four Stanford women competed on the final day of the four-day NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday and each earned a top-10 finish. As a team, the Cardinal finished tied for 25th, with 12 points. The men completed action on Friday and placed 42nd, with 5.

Donaghu and Julia Heymach, who was sixth in the 5,000, came the closest to victory at Hayward Field. Christina Aragon took seventh in the 1,500 and Allie Jones was 10th in the heptathlon. 

It was fitting that Donaghu and Aragon took the starting together in the 1,500. The close friends have combined for 14 All-America honors overall and five NCAA finals appearances in the 1,500 alone. This was the third 1,500 final for Aragon – her best finish was fourth in 2018 -- and she and Donaghu looked comfortable as the race developed, with Aragon on the rail near the front and Donaghu on the outside farther back in the pack. 

Aragon was third and Donaghu sixth as they reached the bell for the final lap. Aragon tried to weave her way to the outside and was able to find room on the backstretch to move into second behind Colorado's Sage Hurta. Meanwhile, BYU's Anna Camp surged past both and Donaghu answered Camp's move to pass Aragon. 

Donaghu was third in a pack of four coming off the turn, but was wedged on the rail. She tried to go outside Hurta to follow Camp, but knew a big move would cost her in distance and energy. Instead, she focused on Hurta, but was unable to pass her for second. 

Still, Donaghu, a fifth-year senior, earned a huge two-second personal best, and her time of 4:09.66 places her No. 3 in Stanford history, behind Elise Cranny and Aragon, who ran the two fastest times (4:09.49 for Cranny and 4:09.59 for Aragon) in the 2018 NCAA final, placing third and fourth. 

Donaghu moves into the No. 7 spot on the Pac-12's all-time performers' list, nudging just ahead of Arizona State's Shelby Houlihan, who ran 4:09.67 in 2015. 

Aragon, a senior academically, was eighth in 4:12.63 and is expected to return next season for a shot at her fourth NCAA 1,500 final.  

Stanford should have had three in the 1,500 final, if not for Julia Heymach's fall in the final meters of the semifinal when she was in qualifying position. Heymach, however, still had the 5,000, and she went for the win.


Julia Heymach. Photo by Chuck Aragon.

As the 5,000 developed, Heymach was patient early on, staying deep in the pack of 24. Slowly, Heymach moved up … 13th … 10th … ninth … eighth … With three laps to go, Heymach was seventh. She sat in the back of a small three-runner pack that was closing the gap to a front pack of four. 

At the bell, Heymach was fifth in what was now a single front pack and passed two runners on the curve to move into third. 

As North Carolina State's Elly Henes pushed ahead with Notre Dame's Katie Wasserman in tow. Heymach, who had designs on the lead near the end of the backstretch was unable to match them. Heymach struggled down the homestretch, but held on for sixth. Her time of 15:33.62 was a seven-second improvement on her lifetime best, though the sample size for her at that distance on the track – three races – is small. 

What is clear is that Heymach, a middle-distance specialist throughout her track career, has something special going in the 5,000. Heymach, even with a Pac-12 title in her 5,000 debut last month, may not even know what she's capable of. 

In the heptathlon, Jones had two personal bests on the first day, but fell off her Pac-12 Championships pace (in which she was runner-up), in the high jump and shot put. Field events again bit her Saturday, but Jones did her best to make it up with a 2:16.25 in the 800 – a two-second lifetime best, to finish with a strong 5,623 points, the second highest score of her career. 

With that, the collegiate season has ended. Javelin thrower Virginia Miller has automatically qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials and Charles Hicks will run in the British Olympic Trials, but a most unusual Stanford season is complete. 


 Allie Jones. Photo by Isaac Wasserman/NCAA Photos via Getty Images.

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NCAA Championships
At Hayward Field
Saturday's Stanford results

Team scores – 1, USC 74; 25, Stanford 12.
1,500 – 1, Anna Camp (BYU) 4:08.53; 3, Ella Donaghu (Stanford) 4:09.66 (PB; No. 3 Stanford AT); 8, Christina Aragon (Stanford) 4:12.63.
5,000 – 1, Elly Henes (North Carolina State) 15:28.05; 6, Julia Heymach (Stanford) 15:33.62; 12, Ella Donaghu (Stanford) 15:53.25.
Heptathlon – 1, Tyra Gittens (Texas A&M) 6,285; 10, Allie Jones (Stanford) 5,623.
Allie Jones (event, place in event, mark, points, place in competition):
First day: 100 hurdles – 4, 13.37 (PB; No. 3 Stanford AT), 1,069 (4); High jump – 13, 5-5 ¼ (1.66m), 806 (9); Shot put – 18, 36-9 (11.20m), 608 (12); 200 – 5, 24.33, 949 (9). First-day total: 3,432.
Second day: Long jump – 11, 18-10 ½ (5.75m), 4,206 (9); Javelin – 16, 109-9 (33.46m), 542 (11); 800 – 7, 2:16.25 (PB), 875 (10). Second-day total: 2,191. Final total: 5,623.
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Stanford All-Americans

First team: Charles Hicks (10,000), Ky Robinson (3,000 steeplechase).
Second team: Charles Hicks (5,000).
First team: Christina Aragon (1,500), Ella Donaghu (1,500), Julia Heymach (5,000), Virginia Miller (javelin).
Second team: Ella Donaghu (5,000), Allie Jones (heptathlon).