Sept. 26, 2010


Courtesy of Stanford Athletics

Stanford, Calif. -
In the first big race of the season for the Stanford cross-country team, the Cardinal showed that it will be a force to reckoned with this season by sweeping both races. The No. 1 Cardinal men scored just 31 points in defeating a pair of ranked teams, while the No. 14 Cardinal women cruised to a victory with 41 points.

"I was really pleased with both teams," said head coach Jason Dunn. "They did a really good job of running and competing as a team together."

The Cardinal men looked strong throughout, running as a team and building strength over the 8,000-meter course. Last season's national runner-up, David McNeil of Northern Arizona, took the race out hard, but instead of following him, Stanford hung back and ran as a team. Chris Derrick, Elliott Heath and Jacob Riley ran shoulder to shoulder, controlling the pace of the chase group.

The Cardinal battled with No. 15 Arkansas for the team title, but pulled away over the last three kilometers. Stanford finished with a 31-43 advantage over the Razorbacks, despite it being much closer midway through the race. No. 4 Northern Arizona placed third with 125 points, but did not run its full `A' team.

Derrick ran with McNeil at the NCAA meet last year, but instead of trying for an early season showdown, chose to help pace with his teammates. McNeil built a lead of as much as 30 seconds, but the Stanford crew closed hard over the final three kilometers and finished just four seconds back. Heath, Riley and Derrick placed 2-3-4, all with identical times of 23:22.

Placing just out of the lead group was Benjamin Johnson who was eighth. Johnson hung with the leaders most of the way and closed hard to finish with a time of 23:41.

Rounding out the scoring runners was Miles Unterreiner who placed 15th with a time of 24:05. He finished side by side with Stanford freshman Erik Olson, who ran unattached.

Other runners in the top 25 for Stanford were Andrew Berberick and J.T. Sullivan who finished 24th and 25th. They ran identical times of 24:26.

In addition to Olson, the Cardinal got great runs from unattached freshmen, Graham Bazzell and Micheal Atchoo who placed 37th and 55th. Redshirt freshman Tyler Stutzman placed 50th, running with a Stanford jersey for the first time.

After placing third last season in her first collegiate race, Kathy Kroeger was even better this season, taking the individual title. The sophomore covered the 6,000-meter course in 20:06 defeat Deborah Maier of California by four seconds.

"It was a great first race for Kathy," added Dunn. "She has come in really fit."

Finishing as Stanford's No. 2 runner was Georgia Griffin who placed fifth overall with a time of 20:45. Griffin placed 12th each of the last two years and ran the fastest 6K time of her career.

The next four Cardinal runners were packed tightly together, finishing between 10th and 15th. Placing 10th and 12th were a pair of young runners, sophomore Alex Dunne and freshman Jessica Tonn. Dunne ran 21:02, while Tonn was just behind in 21:05. Veterans Alex Gits and Stephanie Marcy placed 14th and 15th with time of 21:12 and 21:14.

The seventh Stanford runner was Tate Murray, but she ran unattached, making Emilie Amaro the actual No. 7. Amaro placed 41st in 22:01, while Murray was 37th in 22:01. Madeline Duhon just missed the top seven, placing 42nd, just one second behind Amaro.

Overall it was a great day for both Cardinal teams, establishing themselves as national contenders. It was a good mix of returning runners showing continued improvement as well as several freshmen breaking onto the scene and performing well.

"The freshmen really stepped up," said Dunn. "Jessica Tonn ran great and our men's freshmen class is going to be really good."

The Cardinal will not compete for three weeks and next be seen at the Pre-National meet in Terre Haute, Ind., on October 16. The annual preview of the NCAA course will be a great chance to see how the Cardinal stack up against the rest of the nation.