Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - November 25, 2011

Stanford's Derrick caps career with second-place finish

Cardinal men fifth and women 10th with bright futures for both squads after solid efforts at national championships

by Rick Eymer

Despite the loss of three talented runners, the Stanford men's cross-country team should be in good shape to compete for a national title next year.

The fifth-ranked Cardinal had plenty of depth this year, which included two of the top recruits in the nation, one of whom is eligible to redshirt.

The Cardinal earned its fourth-straight top-10 finish under head coach Jason Dunn and its third top-five finish in four years.

"I thought we ran pretty well," Dunn said. "I can't remember a race that so closely followed the rankings. I think that just shows how good all the top teams were this season. It hurts to miss the podium by such a small margin, but all of the teams ahead of us ran really well."

The 13th-ranked Cardinal women's team also will lose top talent, but the underclassmen-dominated squad is certainly on the rise.

Senior Chris Derrick completed his college cross-country career with a second-place finish at the NCAA Championships on Monday at the Gibson Course in Terre Haute, Ind.

Derrick raced the 10,000-meter course in 28:57.5 to match the best-ever finish by a Stanford runner. The Cardinal was fifth as a team with 207 points. Wisconsin won the team title with 97 points.

"I am really proud of Chris," said Dunn. "He ran a great race and finished up an amazing career in cross country. He is one of just six to finish in the top-10 all four years, which is an incredible accomplishment."

Ryan Hall, in 2003, and Neftalem Araia, in 2006, also finished second at the NCAA championship for Stanford.

Stanford finished third, 10th, fourth and fifth during Derrick's career. He earned his fourth cross-country All-American honor and 11th overall.

Sophomore Andrew Berberick, who placed 55th, was a pleasant surprise for Stanford. He did not run the regional meet and was a late addition to the national squad. Berberick ran the best race of his young career to finish as Stanford's No. 3 runner. He crossed the line at 30:25.1 and was the 10th-best underclassmen in the race. Jake Riley, who finished 18th in 29:45, also earned All-American honors.

The Cardinal finished just behind BYU (203) and just ahead of Oklahoma (213).

Stanford listed 10 freshmen and five sophomores on its roster this season

Both Derrick and Riley went out with the lead pack, but the race was blown open early when Arizona freshman Lawi Lalang surged to the lead and strung out the chase pack.

Derrick stayed patient and slowly worked his way back to the lead as the runners that tried to stay with Lalang fell off the pace. Lalang cruised to a dominating performance, finishing in 28:44.1. Derrick worked his way through the chase pack and finished strong as he took second in relatively comfortable fashion.

Also running well was senior Brendan Gregg who closed his career with a 65th-place national finish. The result was the best of Gregg's career as he has returned from injury this season in fine form. Gregg covered the course in 30:30.7.

Rounding out the top five was Erik Olson who was 127th in 31:00.6. Olson improved on his time and place from his freshman season as he was the Cardinal No. 5 runner at the NCAA meet for the second-straight year.

Also competing were J.T. Sullivan and Joe Rosa. Sullivan finished his Stanford career with a 144th-place finish as he covered the course in 31:09.5. Rosa, who had a sensational regional meet, struggled in his first NCAA meet, and finished 154th with a time of 31:13.6.

The Stanford women finished 10th with 332 points. Georgetown won the team championship with 162 points. The Cardinal finished 13th last season and were in 13th place halfway through Monday's race.

Junior Kathy Kroeger and fifth-year senior Stephanie Marcy earned All-America honors to pace the Cardinal women.

The Cardinal women earned its first top 10 finish since 2008 as the Pac-12 placed four teams among the top 11. Washington placed second, eight points back of the Hoyas, while Oregon placed fifth and Colorado was 11th.

Sheila Reid of Villanova repeated as the individual champion, edging Jordan Hasay of Oregon at the line.

Kroeger completed a sensational season with her 21st-place finish. Able to stay healthy for a full cross-country season, the junior showed her No. 1 runner talent. Kroeger covered the 6,000 meters in 20:09.8 to earn her first All-America honor in cross country and third overall of her career.

Kroeger and Marcy, who finished 32nd, gave the Stanford women its first  All-Americans in cross country in four years.

Marcy, a four-time All-American on the track, earned her first All-America honor in cross country. She crossed the line with a time of 20:22.6.

Freshman Aisling Cuffe placed 74th and was the third freshman overall. She covered the distance in 20:49.6.

"I was really happy with our team overall," Stanford women's coach PattiSue Plumer said. "We showed a slight improvement into the top 10. It is really hard to come to the national meet with four runners who haven't been here before, but overall they did great. We will continue to improve, myself included, and come back even stronger next year."

Stanford had three freshmen among its top seven runners, while Marcy was the lone senior. The Cardinal listed 10 freshmen on its roster this season and just three seniors. 

Palo Alto grad Maria Lattanzi is also among the runners who are eligible to return.

Rounding out the top five were sophomore Jessica Tonn and junior newcomer Claire Durkin. Tonn placed 111th as the Cardinal No. 4 runner, while Durkin was 192nd. Tonn finished with a time of 21:07.8 in her second NCAA meet, while Durkin, the 2007 high school state champion and Gatorade Player of the Year in Ohio, ran 21:47.8 in her debut.

Completing the top seven were a pair of freshmen, Alli Billmeyer and Mary Kate Anselmini. Billmeyer was 236th in 22:23.1, while Anselmini was 249th in 22:57.7 as the young Cardinal gained experience for future seasons.

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