FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – As Lucy Jenks crossed the finish line in her semifinal heat of the 5,000 meters, Stanford's NCAA qualifiers were solidified. Jenks captured the fifth and final automatic qualifying spot in her race and she followed the news with a big smile.
With that, Stanford will send 13 individuals to Eugene for nationals June 8-11. Five of the seven Cardinal women earned their spots on Saturday, the last of the four-day NCAA West Prelims at the University of Arkansas's John McDonnell Field.
Seven Cardinal are first-time NCAA outdoor qualifiers, including freshman Udodi Onwuzurike, who lit up the meet with a facility record in the 200 on Friday, and broke Stanford records in the 100 and 200.
Melissa Tanaka (right, with Julia Heymach) finds out she qualified for NCAA's. Photo by Chuck Aragon.
But on Saturday, the Stanford focus was on its five distance runners to advance, including three in the same event – the 1,500. Julia Heymach and Christina Aragon have been there, so to speak, and each advanced. But Melissa Tanaka, a graduate transfer from Penn, was a bonus. As for experience, Aragon is a three-time NCAA outdoors 1,500 finalist and Heymach was sixth in the event at the Olympic Trials though she still is searching for her first NCAA 1,500 final.
Heymach led virtually wire to wire in her heat – trailing by inches during a brief stretch of the final lap – and her time of 4:16.34 was the day's best. Aragon took fourth in her heat, a seemingly comfortable 4:19.55.
But Tanaka was the pleasant surprise, on the bubble, she missed the five automatic qualifying spots in Heymach's heat, but her 4:20.04 was enough for one of the two time qualifying spots. This will be the first NCAA meet for the master's candidate in civil and environmental engineering.
Ellie Deligianni was born on the Fourth of July and is an All-American (distance medley relay indoors), but she is from Greece, and her 2:03.47 – a lifetime best by 0.01 – is the fastest by a woman from Greece this year.
Ellie Deligianni. Photo by Chuck Aragon.
The busiest Cardinal was Kennedy Gamble, who set all-conditions bests in the 100 (11.43) and 200 (23.74) and ran the second leg of the 4x100 relay. The times won't count for record purposes because they were aided by wind, but Gamble had a strong and exhausting day. And was a vital part of a complete team that had women in the final round of every non-hurdle or barrier race, from 100 to 10,000.
Two weeks from establishing a lifetime best in the 400 of 53.36, freshman Maya Valmon nearly eclipsed that mark, running 53.37. She also anchored the 4x100 that ran 45.37 and included Allie Jones, Gamble, and Trinity Price.
Another freshman, Audrey Suarez placed 25th overall in the 5,000, and completed a freshman year in which she made Stanford's lineup for the NCAA Cross Country Championships and had a strong all-around year.
Lucy Jenks. Photo by Chuck Aragon.
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Men's qualifiers (6 individuals, 8 entries)
100: Udodi Onwuzurike
200: Udodi Onwuzurike
5,000: Ky Robinson, Cole Sprout
10,000: Charles Hicks, Cole Sprout
Pole vault: Max Manson
Triple jump: Keyshawn King
Women's qualifiers (7 individuals, 7 entries)
800: Ellie Deligianni
1,500: Christina Aragon, Julia Heymach, Melissa Tanaka
5,000: Lucy Jenks
Javelin: Virginia Miller
Heptathlon: Allie Jones
* * *
Stanford's Saturday Results
NCAA West Prelims
At John McDonnell Field
100 – 1, Julien Alfred (Texas) 10.80w; 23, Kennedy Gamble (Stanford) 11.43w.
200 – 1, Kynnedy Flannel (Texas) 22.40w; 22, Kennedy Gamble (Stanford) 23.74w.
400 – 1, Stacy Ann Williams (Texas) 50.66; 17, Maya Valmon (Stanford) 53.37.
800 – 1, Kristie Schofield (Boise State) 2:01.41; 11, Ellie Deligianni (Stanford) 2:03.47 (PB; No. 6 Stanford AT). (Deligianni qualifies for NCAA's).
1,500 – 1, Julia Heymach (Stanford) 4:16.34; 8, Christina Aragon (Stanford) 4:19.55; 11, Melissa Tanaka (Stanford) 4:20.04. (Heymach, Aragon, and Tanaka qualify for NCAA's).
5,000 – 1, Abby Nichols (Colorado) 15:49.51; 11, Lucy Jenks (Stanford) 16:15.64; 25, Audrey Suarez (Stanford) 16:36.48 (Jenks qualifies for NCAA's).
4x100 relay – 1, Oregon 42.74; 17, Stanford (Allie Jones, Kennedy Gamble, Trinity Price, Maya Valmon) 45.38.
PB = personal best
AT = all-time