Jim Rosa earned Stanford's first points of the NCAA Track and Field Championships, placing sixth in the men's 10,000 meters at Hayward Field on Wednesday.
"I executed my race plan," Rosa said. "I wanted to go out pretty conservatively and pick people off the entire race. I knew no one was challenging the guys up front."
Rosa's performance highlighted a strong opening day for Stanford runners. All three Stanford 800-meter runners -- Claudia Saunders and Amy Weissenbach among the women and Luke Lefebure among the men -- advanced to the finals through their performances in semifinal heats.
In field event finals, Stanford's three-time Pac-12 women's javelin champion Brianna Brain placed ninth with a top throw of 171-9, and freshman Dylan Duvio was 17th in the men's pole vault, clearing 17-2 3/4.
Rosa decided to run conservatively early on, a wise choice considering that a pack of five that included Oregon's three-time NCAA champion Edward Cheserek and Texas Tech's 2012 NCAA cross country champion Kennedy Kithuka broke out quickly.
Rosa remained near the end of the 24-runner field, even occupying last place briefly in the early laps. But as the runners began to separate, Rosa began to move up and bridge a gap between packs.
"It's definitely hard being that far back," Rosa said. "You have to have confidence in yourself to run like that. You have to be willing to be patient."
From there, he mostly rattled off consistent laps between 68 and 71 seconds. As runners grew weary, Rosa grew stronger. His final 1,600 (just short of a mile) of 4:24.73 was his fastest of the race and his time of 28:57.51 marked his first foray under 29 minutes.
"If there's one thing I've learned this year is that you can make up a lot of ground on people who go out even a little bit too hard," Rosa said. That was the formula he used in placing fifth and finishing as the top American-born runner at the NCAA cross country championships last fall."
Rosa's three points were significant because it already marks an improvement for the Stanford men, who were shut out in last year's NCAA championship meet, and five other Cardinal men are still to compete.
Stanford men and women are in position to earn points in the 800.
Saunders ran a personal record of 2:02.68 -- improving on her No. 3 position on Stanford's all-time list -- and fellow sophomore Weissenbach also finished second in her 800 section to earn automatic berths in Friday's final (5:25 p.m.).
Stanford junior Lefebure ran a lifetime best of 1:48.46 to advance to Friday's men's final (5:15 p.m.), qualifying on time.
Saunders, a hurdler in high school and in only her second season focusing on the 800, ran a smart race. She even appeared relaxed down the stretch of the first heat as she cruised to a lifetime best, faster than her 2:03.44 from the Payton Jordan Invitational.
Knowing that meet favorite Laura Roesler of Oregon does not like to lead, Saunders patiently remained in the pack with an eye on Roesler, even as Saunders was jostled at the bell.
When Roesler made a move to the front with 200 to go, Saunders went with her, pushing forward from fourth. Saunders simply followed Roesler to the line, remaining a step behind as Roesler clocked 2:02.60. They were the fastest of the day's competitors.
Weissenbach ran 2:04.46 to finish second to Iowa State's Ejiroghene Okoro (2:04.28) in the second heat. Weissenbach's path was not as smooth. She was boxed on the inside rail for most of the race and had to keep her balance during contact in a tight pack on the final lap.
As the pack rounded the turn into the homestretch, Weissenbach tried to squeeze through on the inside, but found her path blocked. Instead, she bolted sharply into lane two and found room outside to stride out to the finish.
This will be the second consecutive NCAA final for Weissenbach, who placed sixth last year. This marks the first individual final, indoors or outdoors, for Saunders.
With only two automatic spots available in each heat, Lefebure's section looked formidable, with the two fastest collegians in the country, and three of the top five, in the race.
Lefebure, a math and computational science major who carries a 3.84 cumulative grade-point average, opened with a 52.34 first lap. He moved into fourth on the backstretch of the final lap and passed a fading Eliud Rutto, the Middle Tennessee State sophomore who shattered the Payton Jordan Invitational record in May, down the stretch to capture third.
Lefebure is assured of his first individual All-America honor. His time (1:48.46) was the fourth-fastest of the day, and bettered his previous best of 1:48.79 from the Big Meet. Not a bad rebound for Lefebure, who didn't make the Pac-12 final.
Bain was coming off NCAA finishes of third in 2013 and second in 2012, but had been nursing an arm injury this season.
Her best throw of 171-9 came on her third attempt, and was an improvement of 14-6 over her second throw. It got her into the final and the opportunity for three more attempts, but she did not improve.
"I really wanted to throw today," Bain said. "I felt I was mentally prepared. But after the first couple of throws, I felt I was physically deteriorating."
Duvio cleared the opening height of 16-8 3/4 on his second try and made 17-2 3/4 on his first. This gave him three attempts at a personal record 17-8 1/2, but without success.
The four-day meet continues Thursday with four Stanford athletes in action: Lucas Rowley in the men's hammer throw trials and final (1:30 p.m.), Valarie Allman in the women's discus trials and final (2 p.m.), Michael Atchoo in the men's 1,500 semifinals (4:30 p.m.), and Rebecca Mehra in the women's 1,500 semifinals (4:45 p.m.
Stanford's Kelsey Harbin and Caroline Beaudoin will represent the Cardinal and compete at the USA Field Hockey Women's National Championship in Lancaster, Pa.
The duo will travel to Spooky Nook Sports for a practice day on June 15, followed by the national championship tournament on June 16-21.
The Women's National Championship serves as the selection trials for the U.S. Women's National Squad and features top collegiate players, current national team members and 2012 U.S. Olympic players.
Harbin is a two-time All-American and was named the 2013 NorPac West Player of the Year with the Cardinal. She led Stanford in assists (8) and tied for the most points (22) during the 2013 season. Harbin represented Team USA at the Junior Pan American Championships in September 2012 and was a member of the U17 and U19 U.S. national teams.
Beaudoin competed in 18 games during her freshman year on The Farm. The Yorktown, Va., native was a three time all-region and all-district selection in high school. Prior to joining Stanford, Beaudoin completed the USA Field Hockey Futures Elite Championship and Junior National Camp.
Stanford earned a second-place finish in the Fowle Trophy, the Cardinal's best result in the point series competition in program history.
The Fowle Trophy is a competition based on team finishes at the six national championships throughout the year. The Cardinal finished with 76.67 points, trailing only Yale with 84.91 points. The second-place mark also ranks the highest of any Pacific Coast Collegiate Sailing Conference member all-time.
It was a record-breaking year for the Cardinal, which capped its spring season with strong results at the APS Team Race Championship (3rd), Gill Coed Championship (4th) and Sperry Top-Sider Women's Nationals (12th). Stanford's third-place team race result was its first podium finish since 1996. The Cardinal's fourth-place finish at the coed championship is its best result in program history.
Stanford built momentum during the fall with a sixth-place finish at the ICSA Match Race Nationals, three top-10 placements at the ICSA/LP Singlehanded Nationals and a seventh-place finish at the Men's Singlehanded Nationals.
In other sailing news, six Stanford athletes earned All-America honors this week, marking the most in a single season in program history, as announced by the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association.
The Cardinal had two representatives in each of the three categories of All-Americans, including coed, crew and women's.
Kieran Chung was named a coed All-American and was joined by Kevin Laube who received honorable mention honors. The duo is coming off an impressive performance at the Gill Coed Championship where they helped Stanford earn its highest finish in program history, placing fourth among 18 teams.
Yuri Namikawa and Carolyn Ortel earned crew All-America honors. The award is the third of Ortel's career and is the first of Namikawa's. The pair had a busy 10 days at nationals this spring with Namikawa competing in all three competitions and Ortel racing in the APS Team Race and Gill Coed Championship. Ortel and Namikawa helped Stanford earned its first podium finish at the team race championship since 1996.
Sarah Mace and Molly McKinney notched women's All-American honorable mention accolades. It is the second award for Mace, also earning recognition in 2012, and the first for McKinney. The pair helped lead Stanford to a 12th-place finish at the Sperry Top-Sider Women's Nationals and their contributions throughout the season guided Stanford to a second-place result in the Fowle Trophy.
The ICSA All-America Team is selected by a committee of coaches who represent the seven conferences in the ICSA. The committee evaluates a competitor based on their competitive record in inter-conference competition as well as conference and national championships to select All-American skippers. For All-American crew selections, the committee also considers demonstrated leadership, outstanding body mechanics and boat handling skills along with results.
This story contains 1646 words.
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