Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - May 9, 2014

National honor for record run

Stanford's Cuffe shatters school mark in 5,000 at Jordan Invitational

Stanford junior Aisling Cuffe was named USTFCCCA National Women's Track and Field Athlete of the Week after her stunning 15:11.13 in the 5,000 meters Sunday night at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational at Stanford's Cobb Track and Angell Field.

Cuffe, who placed sixth in a loaded 26-runner field that included both collegians and professionals, became the third-fastest collegian of all-time and No. 2 ever among American collegians, trailing only Jennifer Barringer Simpson, who ran 15:01.70 indoors for Colorado in 2009.

"I wasn't sure I fast I expected to run," Cuffe said. "I was ready to run . . . wanted to mix it up with the big dogs . . . it was a lot of fun."

Cuffe, a junior from Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y., shattered her personal record by more than 42 seconds and broke the Stanford record of 15:20.44 set in 2003 by three-time NCAA outdoor 5,000 champion Lauren Fleshman, who was in attendance Sunday.

Cuffe, the 2014 NCAA indoor 5,000 runner-up, is now the fastest active 5,000 runner in the country, moving past Dartmouth's Abbey D'Agostino, the reigning NCAA indoor and outdoor champion, who ran a 15:11.35 last year.

Cuffe, the reigning Pac-12 cross country champion, next races at the Pac-12 Championships May 17-18 in Pullman, Wash.

In the men's and women's 5,000 alone, seven Stanford runners beat personal records, with four establishing themselves on Stanford's all-time Top 10 lists.

Behind Cuffe, Jessica Tonn's 15:32.26 placed her No. 7 at Stanford all-time — a personal best by 22 seconds.

In the second section of the men's 5,000, Joe Rosa was second in 13:33.56, setting a personal best by 11 seconds, to place him at No. 8 all-time in Stanford history. Erik Olson was fifth in 13:36.91, a best by five seconds and good for No. 9 all-time. And Sean McGorty, in his first track 5,000, was sixth in 13:37.64, which would have been No. 10 all-time and the No. 2 ever by a Stanford freshman, except that he's redshirting.

McGorty's time makes him the fourth-fastest American junior ever, behind only German Fernandez, former Stanford star Chris Derrick, and Gerry Lindgren. It also displaced Galen Rupp and Steve Prefontaine, who never ran faster than McGorty while under 20 years of age.

Among other outstanding performances were the 800 times of sophomore Amy Weissenbach, who was fifth in the top section in 2:02.60, a time faster than she ran in placing sixth at the NCAA championship meet last year.

In the third section of the same race, sophomore Claudia Saunders crushed her personal record by running 2:03.44, placing her No. 3 on Stanford's all-time list. Saunders, in only her second season ever in the event, had not previously broken 2:05.

Now, Saunders must be regarded among the elite in the country. While Weissenbach's time was the second-fastest among collegians this year, Saunders vaulted to the seventh spot on that list.

In the top section of the men's 5,000, the top eight times in the world this year all came out of that single race.

Lopez Lomong broke his two-year-old meet record of 13:11.63 by four seconds — and he was third. The new Payton Jordan recordholder is Ben True, who ran 13:02.74 to edge Hassan Mead by 0.06 of a second in a race in which seven runners were in contention going into the last lap.

And we can't forget Stanford recruit Elise Cranny. The senior from Niwot, Colo., became the second-fastest 1,500 runner in girls' high school history. Competing in the fast section against collegians and pros, Cranny was sixth in 4:10.95, about a five-second improvement upon her best, set last year at this meet. It also moved up her past Jordan Hasay on the all-time high school list, trailing only Mary Cain.

It also placed Cranny at No. 4 on the all-time U.S. Junior list, trailing only Cain, Suzy Favor, and Jan Merrill.

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