All he needs is a victory
Stanford's Derrick isn't lacking much after setting 10K mark
By now, Stanford senior Chris Derrick must be used to running great races and not winning. He was second at the NCAA Country Championships and second in both the men's 3,000 and 5,000 meters at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships — all this school year.
Derrick was third in the Kim McDonald 10,000 at the annual Payton Jordan Invitational track and field meet on Sunday at Stanford's Cobb Track and Angell Field. However, Derrick accomplished quite a lot with that finish.
His personal-best time of 27:31.38 set an American Collegiate Record, broke the school mark and gave him the Olympic 'A' standard for the 2012 London Olympics. Now all Derrick needs is a top-three finish at the Olympic Trials in Junes to earn his first Olympic berth.
"I kind of knew I was going to get the 'A' standard," Derrick said. "I was keeping track of it during the race. I knew we were on pace. I was happy with how we ran."
Derrick, one of 28 athletes to earn the Olympic 'A' standard in the meet, ran a smart tactical race hanging in the pack for the first 5K, before surging to the lead with six laps to go. He led for a few laps, before the elite field began to trade pace-setting duties as the tempo quickened. Cameron Levins of Southern Utah finished with a furious kick to win in 27:27.96, while collegiate recordholder Sam Chelanga was second in 27:29.82 and Derrick third.
"It's always less good when you lose —especially to someone in college, but I'm pretty stoked and it just shows you what attitude and expectations can do," Derrick said. 'I saw that (Stephen) Sambu and (Leonard) Korir did it last year (got the "A" standard in the race) so I thought I can do it too."
Levins ran the fastest time in the world this year, but Derrick grabbed the ACR because Levins is Canadian. The top six finishers in the race now rank in that order on the 2012 world list.
Derrick's time, which ranks him No. 3 in the world in 2012, broke the record of Oregon's Galen Rupp by just over two seconds.
"It was great taking it from him (Rupp)," Derrick said of the American Collegiate Record. "It's great to be mentioned in the same breath as him . . . quite an honor. The record, ahh, it's not all that big of deal. I got beat by another college guy. He just happens to be from 30 miles north of the border."
Derrick also took down the Stanford record for the 10K by a whopping 28 seconds. Previously, Ian Dobson had been the only Cardinal to break 28 minutes, running 27:59.72 in 2005.
Derrick and Levins were two of eight to earn the Olympic `A' standard in the 10K. Derrick now has that valuable card in his deck along with one for the 5,000. He ran a school indoor record of 13.19.58 at the Millrose Games in February, just getting under the Olympic standard of 13:20.
The fact he already had the 5K qualifying mark for London allowed Derrick to chase the 10K standard in Sunday's meet.
"We kind of targeted this meet for the 10K," Derrick confirmed. "Obviously the goal was to run under 27:45 to give me some options for the (Olympic) Trials and such so I'm pleased with that. I felt pretty good in the race."
Actually, Derrick has felt pretty good all season for the first time in his Stanford career. He has a right Achilles' injury during the indoor season of his sophomore year and a left IT band (upper leg) injury last year. This season, by comparison, has been a dream.
"I'm definitely in the best shape of my life," he said. "I haven't had major injury problems."
That has allowed Derrick to keep his mileage high and his training consistent.
"This year I was able to take the really good base of cross-country work and carry it right into track season, which I haven't been able to do in past years," he said. "So, I think just having that uninterrupted training block, having things going according to formula —as opposed to having interruptions — is what really helped me in get in good shape this time of year. I knew if I put in a really could solid block of training under me, I could do this."
Despite the excitement of the 10K, the men's 5,000 might have been the most thrilling race of the night as 2008 Olympian Lopez Lomong won after coming to a complete stop before the final lap. Lomong kicked to the lead with 600 meters to go, thinking he was on his final lap. As came to the bell he stopped to celebrate what he thought was the end of the race, but really he still had one lap to go.
Photographers on the track urged him to restart and after a couple of seconds, Lomong realized his mistake and kept going. The U.S. flag bearer at the 2008 Olympics wasn't deterred, however. Lomong restarted and finished with another blazing lap to win the race in a world-leading time of 13:11.63.
Lomong was one of seven to reach the Olympic `A' standard in the race. Finishing ninth in a personal best of 13:27.07 was Stanford grad Garrett Heath. Heath likely will move down to his better event, the 1,500 meters, for the Olympic Trials.
The final men's `A' standard winner was Andy Baddeley of Great Britain, who won the 1,500 in 3:35.19. Alan Webb, the American recordholder in the mile, finished 10th in 3:38.36 in another attempt to come back from injuries that have stalled his career over the past four years.
On the women's side, Sally Kipyego stole the show with her dominating performance in the 5,000 meters. Kipyego ran a Cobb Track and Angell Field record and world-leading time f 14:43.11 to win by 25 seconds. Kipyego ran solo the entire race to smash the previous record. She was one of six to grab the Olympic `A' standard in the event.
In the women's 10,000, six more earned the `A' standard led by 23-year-old Kenyan Betsy Saina in a world-leading 31:15.97.
In the 1,500, Anna Pierce put on a strong finish with 200 left and won in a world-leading 4:07.00. It was Pierce's fastest 1,500 in almost two years.
Stanford grad Jill Camarena-Williams was the star of the field events as she broke the stadium record in the women's shot with a mammoth throw of 64-1 1/4. She overcame two early fouls to easily surpass the previous mark of 63-0. Camarena-Williams, who holds the American record of 66-2 1/2, already had the 'A' qualifying mark.
Aside from the elites, Stanford also had several top efforts. Tyler Stutzman continued his breakthrough season with a personal best in the 1,500 meters. Stutzman ran a time of 3:40.53, which ranks 10th in Stanford history. Michael Atchoo also ran well with a time of 3:42.36.
In the 5,000 meters, Stanford had a pair of nice efforts in the second section. Brendan Gregg ran a personal best of 13:48.49, while teammate Miles Unterreiner was not far behind in 13:50.90.
In the sprints, Amaechi Morton led the Cardinal with a personal best of 46.12 in the 400 meters. The 400-meter hurdles specialist now ranks third among collegians in the open 400 meters after Sunday's race.
In the field, Geoffrey Tabor led the Cardinal with a season-best toss of 187-1 in the discus.
Leading the Stanford women was Kathy Kroeger, who broke through with a huge personal best in the 5,000 meters, running 15:33.76 to finish second in her section of the event. The mark ranks sixth in school history, but more importantly qualifies Kroeger through to the U.S. Olympic Trials this summer.
In the sprints, Shataya Hendricks won the 100 meters with a time of 11.50.
Katie Nelms ran a personal-best time of 13.24 to win the 100-meter hurdles. The time ranks second in school history to Kori Carter, who placed second on Sunday with a time of 13.30. Carter did come back to win the 400 hurdles later with a time of 57.62.
Next up for the Cardinal will be the Pac-12 Championships. This weekend will be the heptathlon and decathlon competitions with the rest of the meet taking place in two weeks.
Derrick expects to run the 1,500 and 5,000 and probably the 5K and 10K at NCAAs, which would give Stanford a shot at some hardware.
"We definitely could get a trophy," Derrick said of a top-four finish.
After that, it will be time to focus on the Olympic Trials, which will be held in Eugene, Ore.
While the 5,000 will be filled with a lot of runners with the potential to turn a slow race into a sprint at the end, "the 10K is more like a war of attrition," Derrick said. "I feel like the 10K suits me better. The 10 is first (at the Trials). I think it will depend on how I come off NCAAs."
Since Derrick is in the best shape of his life and still looking for his first individual NCAA title, you can bet the national championships will be a healthy start for his Olympic aspirations.