Cross country championships ruled by Cardinal runners

Stanford runners dominated the U.S. cross country championships on Saturday: Sean McGorty led a 1-2-3 Cardinal sweep of the men's junior race, incoming freshman Elise Cranny won the women's juniors, and grad Chris Derrick repeated as men's senior champ.

McGorty ran 24:44 over 8K (4.97 miles) at Flatirons Golf Course (elevation 5,430 feet), followed by fellow freshmen Jack Keelan in second and Sam Wharton in third, both in 25:26.

"It was awesome to see my teammates finish together and for us to sweep the top three," McGorty told "It's a real solid freshman group of guys and we're looking forward to progressing as the years go on. It's a real testament to Coach Milt's training."

The pace began a little slow for McGorty, who said he "felt pretty good," so he opened it up and had no problem maintaining it throughout the race.

"I've been working on being tough mentally and physically and I definitely think it helped me in this race," McGorty said. "I just wanted to come in here and compete and put in a winning effort."

McGorty, an All-West Region selection for Stanford, was a member of the Cardinal team that competed at the NCAA Championships. Keelan and Wharton each redshirted in an effort to create a strong training foundation for their collegiate careers.

All three are redshirting during the indoor track and field season. They are coached by Chris Miltenberg, Stanford's Franklin P. Johnson Director of Track and Field.

Cranny, a senior at nearby Niwot (Colo.) High School, won the women's junior title, covering the 6K (3.7 miles) course in 21:14. She won by 51 seconds. Cranny signed a letter of intent with Stanford earlier this month and will be a freshman next fall.

Derrick, a 13-time Stanford All-America and a member of the class of 2012, won the 12K (7.5-mile) men's senior race in 26:14, beating runner-up Luke Puskedra by 25 seconds. Former Stanford star Jacob Riley '11 was eighth in 37:18.

At 6K, Derrick put in a surge, losing the majority of the pack, and continued to lengthen his lead over the final two miles. As the finish line neared, Derrick took one last look over his shoulder, but was not threatened.

"I want to be the best cross country runner in America," Derrick told "I feel really strong in my training, especially training at altitude at Colorado Springs. I've never done two-hour runs before, and now I'm doing those. I felt the guys were letting me have it, and I felt like I was in a groove, so I went."

This is not a World Championship year, so there was no qualifying for world spots. However, McGorty, Keelan, and Wharton will represent the U.S. in the junior race (6K) at the NACAC Cross Country Championships at the Mount Irvine Bay Golf Club in Trinidad & Tobago on Feb. 22.

The meet acts as the championship of North and Central America, and the Caribbean region.

— David Kiefer/Stanford Athletics


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