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Cranny to Tokyo; Huge Race for Heymach

Jun 21, 2021

EUGENE, Ore. – Stanford alum Elise Cranny '18 won the women's 5,000 meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Monday and is going to Tokyo. 

And Julia Heymach, who just completed her junior season, became the fourth-fastest performer in collegiate history, crushing the school record while placing sixth in the women's 1,500 in 4:04.84. 

First, let's talk about Heymach. Over the past two months, Heymach has been lightning fast, winning the Pac-12 title in the 5,000, advancing to NCAA's at two distances, and running some of the fastest times from 800 to 5,000 in school history. But with every personal record, there was a feeling of a level yet to be tapped. 

Heymach proved it, breaking her personal record by 5.05 seconds and the school record by 4.67 seconds. Now No. 4 in collegiate history all-time (including non-collegiate meets), Heymach has only Jenny Barringer Simpson (Colorado, 3:59.90, 2009), Jessica Hull (Oregon, 4:02.62, 2019), and Sinclaire Johnson (Oklahoma State, 4:03.72, 2019) in front of her. 

 

Julia Heymach. Photo by Chuck Aragon.

Heymach was the only collegian in the race and the first Stanford undergrad to reach the Olympic Trials women's 1,500 final since Regina Jacobs in 1984. Heymach was sixth in the 5,000 at the NCAA Championships, but did not make the final in the 1,500. She was in qualifying position in the semifinals of the shorter distance, but stumbled and fell fewer than 10 meters from the finish.

On Monday, Heymach stayed back for the first two laps. She was 13th through 800 and 10th through 1,200. After clocking laps of 66, 65, and 64, she closed with a 48.84 final 300, the fourth-fastest in the field over that span, passing four runners along the way.

Rebecca Mehra '16 was 11th in 4:08.47. Mehra trains under Stanford alum Lauren Fleshman in Bend, Oregon, with Littlewing Athletics and has had her best season. 

The Stanford 1,500 record was held by Cranny, who ran 4:09.49 to place third at the NCAA Championships in 2018. Heymach was close, running 4:09.65 on Saturday in the first round of the Trials, advancing as the final time qualifier.

Cranny has been running incredibly well for the past year and approached this race with calm confidence. Cranny and Stanford and Bowerman Track Club teammate Vanessa Fraser remained close together for the first 1,800. At that point, Cranny moved up in the pack while Fraser, rounding into shape after injuries and heel surgeries over the past year and a half, began to drop. 

With four laps to go, Cranny and teammate Karissa Schweizer turned it up a notch, trading the lead and dropping a 71-second lap after a series of 79's, splintering the pack. 

The laps dropped to 70, and then 67. At the bell, four remained in contention, with Schweizer leading, Cranny second, and Rachel Schneider just behind. Abbey Cooper was slightly off the pace. 

Cranny's kick, however, was too lethal. She closed with a 63 to Schweizer's 64 to finish in 15:27.81 and take the victory. Fraser took 13th in 16:02.92.

Cranny became the sixth Stanford track and field alum to claim a spot in Tokyo. She joins Valarie Allman '17 (U.S., women's discus), Malindi Elmore '02 (Canada, women's marathon), Grant Fisher '19 (U.S., men's 10,000), Jacob Riley '11 (U.S., men's marathon), and Katerina Stefanidi '12 (Greece, women's pole vault). Cranny and Allman, roommates at Stanford, each are U.S. champions.

 

Keyshawn King. Photo by Chuck Aragon.

Keyshawn King, who just completed his sophomore season, became the first Stanford undergrad to make an Olympic Trials men's triple jump final since 1960. He placed 12th with a top jump of 50-2 (15.29m). 

The competition was shown live at his alma mater, Liberty (S.C.) High school. Afterward, King posted this message on Instagram: 

"An incredible way to end an incredible season. I'm so grateful for the love and support from my hometown of Liberty SC, the Stanford community, and many friends that were made along the way. Words cannot express how grateful I am for everyone that was in my corner this weekend, I cannot thank everyone enough. But nevertheless, I'm so grateful for this experience at my first Olympic Trials, and excited to say that it won't be my last! #WorksNotDone."

In the first round of the men's steeplechase, Sean McGorty '17 was in danger of not advancing, despite being one of the favorites for Friday's final. 

Midway through his heat, McGorty's heel came out of his right shoe. Rather than toss the shoe off and go barefoot, McGorty moved to lane three and fixed his shoe, losing perhaps five seconds and connection with the pack and dropped 11 places, with only the top five advancing automatically to the final, plus four time qualifiers over the two heats. 

Running from behind, McGorty grinded through the race, catching some stragglers and closing with a 61-second final lap – the fastest among any competitor in the two heats. It got him ninth, in 8:25.95. After the first heat, he was the fourth and last time qualifier and could supplanted easily in the next heat. 

To McGorty's advantage, the second heat was much slower, and McGorty went through. 

The Trials take a two-day break before resuming on Thursday with Card freshman Alexa Rossum running the first round of the women's 200, plus Mehra and Olivia Baker '18 in the first round of the 800 and Fisher and Thomas Ratcliffe '20 in the first round of the 5,000. McGorty also is scheduled to run the 5,000, but could drop it to focus on the steeplechase. 

 

Elise Cranny. Photo by Eugene Register-Guard.
 
* * * 

U.S. Olympic Trials
At Hayward Field
(Results of 2021 Stanford athletes and alumni)

Men
3,000 steeplechase first round – 9, Sean McGorty (Nike/Bowerman TC) 8:25.95. McGorty advances to final.
Triple jump final – 12, Keyshawn King (Stanford) 50-2 (15.29m).
Women
1,500 final
– 6, Julia Heymach (Stanford) 4:04.84 (PB; school record; No. 4 collegian all-time); 11, Rebecca Mehra (Oiselle/Littlewing Athletics) 4:08.47.
5,000 final – 1, Elise Cranny (Nike/Bowerman TC) 15:27.81. Cranny makes Olympic team.
 
* * * 

Stanford's Schedule

Thursday 
TV: NBCSN, 6-9 p.m.
6:04 p.m. – Men's 1,500 first round (Sean McGorty).
6:31 p.m. – Women's 200 first round (Alexa Rossum).
7 p.m. – Women's 800 first round (Olivia Baker, Rebecca Mehra).
8:04 p.m. – Men's 5,000 first round (Grant Fisher, Sean McGorty, Thomas Ratcliffe).

Friday
TV: NBCSN, 2-5 p.m.
1 p.m. – Women's javelin qualifying (Virginia Miller).
3:02 p.m. – Women's 800 semifinals.
4:05 p.m. – Men's 1,500 semifinals.
4:25 p.m. – Women's 200 semifinals.
4:42 p.m. – Men's 3,000 steeplechase final (Sean McGorty).

Saturday
TV: NBC, 6-8 p.m.
(9:35 a.m. PT – British trials, men's 5,000 final (Charles Hicks)).
5:30 p.m. – Women's javelin final.
6:44 p.m. – Women's 10,000 final (Sara Bei Hall, Elise Cranny, Vanessa Fraser, Fiona O'Keeffe).
7:24 p.m. – Women's 200 final.

Sunday
TV: NBC, 4-5:30 p.m.
4:30 p.m. – Men's 5,000 final.
4:52 p.m. – Women's 800 final.
5:10 p.m. – Men's 1,500 final.