Payton Jordan would have been pleased with how his annual Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational turned out on Saturday. Just three months since the former Stanford track and field coach passed away at age 91, athletes from around the world dropped by to honor the former coach the best way possible – with some fast times and records at Cobb Track & Angell Field.
On a day that saw a handful of U.S.-leading marks, arguably the most impressive performance was turned in by Stanford freshman Chris Derrick, who broke the American Junior Record in the men's 5,000 meters with a sizzling 13:29.98.
Running in Section 2 – the fast heat was won by Alistair Cragg in 13:22.36 -- Derrick battled with Oklahoma State freshman German Fernandez before pushing the pace over the final three laps to create the necessary gap. Fernandez also ran under the old record of 13:37.91 set by 2008 U.S. Olympian Galen Rupp. Both Derrick and Fernandez are still considered juniors because they will not turn 20 in 2009.
"I was hoping to get the record; thought I could do it," Derrick said. "I knew the big thing was to beat German because he'd be in shape to do it. It's a pretty big deal."
As for comparative times, the American record in the 5,000 is 12:58.21 by Bob Kennedy and the world mark is 12:37.35 by Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele.
Derrick was last season's national cross-country runner of the year while Fernandez was the national honoree in track. Rupp, a 2008 Olympian in the 10,000 meters, ran the 800 for a speed workout on Saturday and finished well back.
The time for Derrick was the fastest by a collegian this season. It's also a school freshman record and ranks him No. 6 in school history with four of the five ahead of him having competed in the Olympic Games.
In the men's 1,500 meters, Oregon freshman Matt Centrowitz won in a U.S.-leading 3:36.92. It's also the fastest time by a collegian this season. His sister, Lauren, is a senior at Stanford and also turned in a noteworthy performance in the women's 1,500 by tying the school record of 4:10.42 set by Malindi Elmore in 2003.
In a field with mostly professionals, Centrowitz hung with the main pack throughout the race and finished sixth, just behind former Texas Tech star and nine-time NCAA champion Sally Kipyego. The time by Centrowitz was the third-fastest in the NCAA this season.
Steeplechase specialist Anna Willard decided to forgo her specialty with the barriers and water jumps and showed her speed in the 1,500 as she won in 4:06.90, the fastest time in the world this year. Willard, now training with a host of elite distance runners in the Mammoth Lakes area, made the 2008 Olympic team in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and finished 10th in Beijing.
"I'm hoping to make it a primary event," she said of the 1,500. "I'll be running more 1,500s and even the 800. I changed coaches. We fixed a couple things in my form and we realized I had some speed we didn't know about."
Former Stanford standout Sara Hall ran a personal-best 4:09.69 while high school phenom Jordan Hasay from San Luis Obispo faded on the last lap and finished 11th in 4:16.80. She holds the all-time state record of 4:14.50 and is a three-time state champion in the 3,200.
In the second heat of the 1,500 meters, Stanford's Alicia Follmar and Laurynne Chetelat achieved the NCAA regional standard. Follmar, a senior, used a great last lap to surge to the front of the field and win the heat. She just missed her personal best with a time of 4:17.63. Chetelat, a freshman, finished in 4:20.68 in her debut at that distance.
In the second heat of the men's 1,500, Stanford's Garrett Heath set a big personal best of 3:37.57. Heath finished fifth with two collegiate runners ahead of him. The three college times were the fastest in the NCAA this year. Heath, who is already a two-time All-American in the 1,500 meters, moved to fifth all-time on the Stanford list.
Also running well in the second heat of the 1,500 were Stanford's Elliott Heath and Jacob Evans. The younger Heath set a personal best and achieved the regional standard with his time of 3:43.10. Evans just missed his personal best with a time of 3:44.34.
In the men's 3,000 steeplechase, Ben Bruce won in a U.S.-leading 8:26.08. In the second heat, Stanford's Chris Mocko set a huge personal best and achieved the regional standard with a time of 8:50.30 to finish fourth. That moved him to No. 8 in school history. Also with a personal best was JT Sullivan, who finished fifth in 8:51.74 to rank No. 10 in Stanford history.
In the annual Kim McDonald Memorial 10,000, Tim Nelson of the Oregon Track Club won in 27:36.99 and achieved the 'A' qualifying standard for the World Championships this summer in Berlin. In the second heat, Stanford's Jacob Riley finished with a personal best of 28:46.84 to just miss the NCAA automatic standard.
In the women's 5,000, steeplechase specialist Jennifer Barringer, an Olympian and the American recordholder out of Colorado, gave the 5,000 a try and ended up winning in a world-leading time of 15:07.64. That gave her the 'A' standard for the World Championships.
Another top mark was turned in by recent Stanford graduate Erica McLain, who won the women's triple jump with a wind-aided 46-8 1/4. McLain won the NCAA title last season with a wind-aided 47-11 and made the Olympic team for Beijing by finishing third at the U.S. Trials. She holds the collegiate record of 46-5 1/2.
In the women's 800, Katie Waits of Reebok ran a U.S.-leading time of 2:01.78 to win the fast heat.
Elsewhere, Stanford freshman Amaechi Morton led the way by winning both the 400-meter hurdles in a time of 50.23 and the open 400 meters with a time of 47.23.
Leading Stanford in the field events was Daniel Schaerer in the discus. His toss of 199-4 was a personal best, a regional standard and the second all-time on the Stanford discus list. Also achieving a regional standard was Geoffrey Tabor in the shot put with a mark of 55-3.
In the 5,000 meters, Stanford's Kate Niehaus achieved the regional standard with a time of 16:19.20 The time was a 28 second personal best for the Stanford junior who finished second in the second section of the event. Also with personal bests in the race were Stephanie Marcy with a time of 16:27.90 and Georgia Griffin with a time of 16:30.00.
In the 3,000 steeplechase, freshman Emilie Amaro continued her strong season with a personal best of 10:11.68. The time improved her regional standard and ranks her No. 4 in Stanford history. Also with personal bests in the second heat were Madeleine O'Meara with a time of 10:30.87 and Claire Collison with a time of 11:04.89.
The distance runners were not the only top performances of the day. Idara Otu set a personal best and achieved the regional standard in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 59.50.
Also with a personal best and a regional standard was Griffin Matthew in the 200 meters (23.59). The time for Otu puts her fourth on the all-time Stanford list in the 400 hurdles, while Matthew's mark places her fifth on the all-time 200 list.
In the field events the Cardinal was led by Michaela Wallerstedt, who set a personal best and achieved the regional standard in the shot put with a throw of 52-8. She is fifth on the all-time Stanford list. Also performing well was Jaynie Goodbody who achieved the regional standard in the hammer throw with a toss of 192-10.
The completion of the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational ends both the regular season and the home season for Stanford. The Cardinal now will prepare for the Pac-10 Championships from Eugene, Ore., on May 16-17. The Pac-10 Multi-Event Championships will be next weekend, May 9-10, also from Eugene.