Loaded Distance Fields Headline Stanford Invitational
Along with the Texas Relays, the Stanford Invitational kicks off the collegiate and professional outdoor track and field season in the United States, bringing together some incredibly talented distance fields, where many athletes look to carry over the momentum they achieved during the indoor season, as well as race for speicific qualifying standards.
What do Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher and Jordan Hasay have in common? Probably many things, but this week they are racing the women’s 10,000m race at the Stanford Invitational. All three athletes will be under the careful eye of fans, seeing how each handles their respective race.
Flanagan is having a terrific 2013 racing season, thus far. In early February, Flanagan crushed the senior women’s race at the USA Cross Country Championships, running away from fellow Olympians Kim Conley and Deena Kastor, and winning by 17 seconds. She then followed that up with a runner-up finish at the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half-Marathon, where she ran 1:08:31. Both performances are good indicators that a big result is ahead at the Boston Marathon.
Goucher, who is also tuning up for the Boston Marathon, ran a solid race at the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half-Marathon in late February, where she finished fifth in 1:11:49. Goucher, who finished well behind Flanagan, has been on the comeback trail since healing up from a heel injury. Her 10k showing will be a good indicator of her fitness heading into Boston on April 15.
You might be wondering why Flanagan and Goucher are racing a 10,000m track race so close to the Boston Marathon. Well, quite simply, it’s their best shot to get the World Championship ‘A’ standard in the event (31:45.00). Both athletes are in phenominal shape and both should be able to get the standard without putting in a full race effort.
Hasay on the other hand is coming off of another very good NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, where she finished runner-up to Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino in the 3,000m, while finishing fourth overall in the 5,000m. This is Hasay’s first 10,000m race and how she handles the longer distance could be insight as to where she’s headed post-collegiately this summer.
While Flanagan, Goucher and Hasay will easily capture most of the attention in this race, there are other runners to keep an eye on, too. Washington’s Megan Goethals should challenge Hasay after having a solid indoor campaign, while Duke standout Juliet Bottorff will eye a fast mark, coming off her 7th place 5k finish at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.
As usual, the men’s 5,000m Stanford Invitational field is loaded with talent. Where do we begin?
For starters, Kemoy Campbell (Arkansas) is entered. After his amazing runner-up 3,000m performance at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, where he almost nipped pre-race favorite Lawi Lalang (Arizona), finishing in 7:46.95, Campbell hits the 400m oval for a chance to continue his dominance. Overlooked for much of the indoor season, Campbell will certainly be the pre-race favorite at Stanford.
Campbell’s most notable challenger is Anthony Rotich (UTEP). The sophomore has shown time and again that he’s one of the best collegiate distance runners in the country. At the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, Rotich finished sixth in the 5,000m final and 12th in the 3,000m final. Between Rotich and Campbell, don’t be surprised to see the 13:20 barrier pushed, even if it’s early on in the outdoor season.
Two other extreme talents in the field fully capable of winning are Indiana senior Andy Bayer and UNC-Greensboro junior Paul Chelimo. Bayer, who jumpstarted his 1,500m legacy after winning the NCAA 1,500m title last spring and finishing fourth in the same event at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, tests his early outdoor fitness over the longer 5,000m distance.
Not to be outdone, Chelimo, who continues to be one of the best distance runners at the NCAA level, starts his 2013 outdoor season looking to lower his 13:21 5000m best, which came at last year's Payton Jordan Invite. Chelimo was the 5000m runnerup at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Plenty of other strong competition will vie for top three finishes. Indoor 5,000m finalists Stanley Kebenei (Arkansas), Elliot Krause (Wisconsin), Jeremy Elkaim (Oregon) and Kevin Williams (Oklahoma) will all vie for new PRs, while Stanford’s Tyler Stutzman and Michael Atchoo, who finished fourth and eighth in the indoor mile event, look to continue their impressive 2013 seasons.
Other top collegians worth keeping an eye on are Northern Arizona’s Brian Shrader and Colorado’s Ammar Moussa. Moussa, who missed much of the cross country season, is looking to rebound and having a strong sophomore track campaign. Not to be overlooked, Futsum Zeinasellassie (Northern Arizona), who was the top freshman finisher at the NCAA Cross Country Championships this past fall, looks for a top five finish.
There are a trio of professional runners to keep an eye on, as well. Craig Miller, who has defined much of his career as being a miler, is entered, as well as former University of Colorado Olympic steeplechase star Billy Nelson. Not to be overlooked, former Iona All-American Leonard Korir should be challenging for a top three finish, too.
Former Indiana standouts Ben Hubers and Andrew Poore are also in the field.
With so much talent in one field, it’ll be fun to see the race unfold and see which runners step it up and impress in the first major test of the 2013 outdoor season.
Similar to the men’s 5,000m event, this race is packed with talent. And when we say packed with talent, we mean it!
Vying for pre-race favorite status are a quintet of talented stars. Professional standouts Lisa Uhl, Alisha Williams and Chelsea Reilly and collegiate stars Betsy Saina (Iowa State) and Alphine Tuliamuk-Bolton (Wichita State) will all eye winning the race, along with getting in a very fast early season time.
Uhl, who represented the U.S. in the 10k at the London Olympics, looks to prove that she’s a World Championship contender, especially after switching back to her collegiate coach during this past off-season. Williams, who finished 5th in the 10k at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, and 9th in the 5k, is coming off of a runner-up finish at the U.S. 15k Championships and is hoping to take another big step forward in 2013.
The reigning NCAA Cross Country champion Saina, who finished second to Abbey D’Agostino in the 5,000m final at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, will look to continue her impressive string of performances and should have an eye on the 15:20 barrier (and World Championship ‘A’ standard of 15:18.00), while Tuliamuk-Bolton, who finished 3rd in the 5k at NCAA Indoors, should key off Saina and push a similar mark.
One more runner to track in the field is USA Indoor 3,000m champion Chelsea Reilly. The Bay-area runner has improved dramatically from her days at the University of California-Berkley and could very well challenge for the win.
In addition to the lead quintet of talent in the field, fans should keep an eye on Saina’s Iowa State teammate Meaghan Nelson, as well as professional runners Sara Hall and Jamie Cheever, as well as NCAA All-Americans Cally Macumber (Kentucky), Chelsea Oswald (Kentucky) and Georgetown freshman Katrina Coogan. All five have put up great performances over the past year and should push sub-15:45 performances.
The University of Oregon headline the men’s 1,500m event, as a five Ducks look to push their PRs to new lows. Matt Miner, Jeremy Elkaim, Chad Noelle, Elijah Greer and Boru Guyota (in heat two) should work together in their respective races, while pushing each other to some very fast times. Oregon, who had four separate runners break the four-minute mile mark indoors, are showing they might just be the best middle distance program in the country and a strong showing at Stanford goes a long way to proving such dominance.
Two other top middle distance stars in the field are Riley Masters (Oklahoma) and Patrick Rono. Masters has been one of the top collegiate milers in the country the past few seasons and looks to finish his college career on top. He’ll no doubt be looking to not only win, but set a new personal best.
In addition, Rono, who finished 7th in the 800m event at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, looks to prove his worth over the 1,500m distance. Rono was a surprise All-American during the indoor season and should carry some of that early season momentum to the outdoor track. Minnesota’s Nick Hutton is a top three contender too, after running a near sub-four clocking in the mile indoors with a 4:00.15 effort.
While the men’s 5,000 and 1,500m fields receive much of the attention heading into this weekend’s Stanford Invitational, the men’s 10,000m has plenty of intrigue. Headlined by Northern Arizona’s Diego Estrada, the field looks to set a quick early pace to get in big early-season marks.
Estrada, who competed in the London Olympics for Mexico, and finished runner-up to Lawi Lalang in the 5,000m at the Indoor Track and Field Championships last month, will no doubt be the runner everyone is keying off of. His tenacity and talent should help guide the field to some very fast marks.
A post-collegiate runner looking to test his fitness over 10,000m is USA Cross Country Championship 11th place finisher Andy Wacker. Wacker looks to build off his strong cross country performance with hopes of running a new PR and challenge for a top two finish.
Wisconsin’s Elliot Krause looks to push towards a 10,000m qualifying time, while BYU’s Jared Ward, who finished 9th in the 5k at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, and Stanford’s Erik Olson look to do much of the same. Other top talent includes Stanford’s Jim Rosa, Wisconsin’s Brian Leung, Team USA Minnesota’s Jonathan Peterson and Oregon’s Parker Stinson.