It was the first day of the qualifying period for the 2012 London Olympics and many of the nation's top distance runners took full advantage at the annual Payton Jordan Invitational track and field meet on Sunday.
Under perfect conditions at Stanford's Cobb Track and Angell Field, all 25 runners in the men's 10,000 meters surpassed the qualifying mark -- 14 of them getting the automatic 'A' standard. Eight women in the women's 10K and both winners in the men's and women's steeplechase also got their marks.
The men's 10,000 produced a world-leading 27:13.67 by Kenyan Bedan Karoki. American Bobby Curtis was second in 27:24.67 with Australian Ben St. Lawrence third in a national record of 27:24.95. All three were Olympic 'A' standards.
The women's 25-lap contest came down to a two-woman battle between Kenyan Sally Kipyego and American Shalane Flanagan, the U.S. recordholder. Kipyego coverede the final lap in 65.9 seconds and won in a world-leading 30:38.35. Flanagan, who plans to run the marathon at the 2012 Olympic Games, clocked 30:39.57 for second. In all, eight women surpassed the Olympic 'A' qualifying mark.
The third world leader came in the women's steeplechase where the University of Colorado's Emma Coburn, runnerup at last year's NCAA Championships, ran a personal-best 9:40.51 -- comfortably under the Olympic Games 'A' standard of 9:43.00.
Billy Nelson won the men's steeplechase in 8:22.44, coming from third position on the last lap, and was the only athlete in the event to get under the Olympic 'A' standard of 8:23.21.
Katie Follett (4:08.95) and Ben Blankenship (3:39.49) were both surprise winners in their respective 1,500 races.
In the top section of the women's 5,000, Canadian Nicole Sifuentes sprinted away from Mexico's Sandra Lopez and America's Angela Bizzarri and clocked a personal best 15:27.84.
Stanford senior Elliott Heath didn't get the 'A' standard, but he achieved am Olympic 'B' standard and produced one of the meet highlights with a second-place finish in the top section of the men's 5,000.
Heath blazed the final 400 in 55.5 seconds as he emerged from seventh place to nearly chase down winner Brandon Bethke in the final straightaway. Heath finished with a personal-best time of 13:25.82, which ranks fourth in Stanford history. Teammates Chris Derrick and Jake Riley also ran personal bests as Derrick's time of 13:29.74 ranks seventh in school history and Riley's time of 13:39.49 ranks eighth.
In the second section of the women's 5,000 meters, Stanford had three outstanding finishes as well. Stephanie Marcy used a blazing final lap to separate herself from to field to win in a big personal best of 16:05.35. Just behind Marcy was Kathy Kroeger who was making her 2011 debut. Kroeger ran 16:15.49, while Kate Niehaus ran 16:26.85 to complete the trio for the Cardinal.
A couple of Stanford men ran well in the second section of the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Benjamin Johnson had a huge personal best, running 8:48.46, which ranks ninth in Stanford history. Right behind Johnson was teammate JT Sullivan who was an All-American in the event last season, running 8:48.82. Both times should be plenty fast to qualify for the preliminary round of the NCAA Championships.
Later, Kevin Havel came through with a huge personal best in the 10,000 meters, running 28:56.57 to become the fourth Stanford runner under 29 minutes this season. Brendan Gregg also ran well, clocking a time of 29:11.90.
In the middle distances, Michael Atchoo paced Stanford, running 3:44.98 in the 1,500 meters. He led a host of teammates in the event as Tyler Valdes had a big PR, running 3:47.96, while Kenny Krotzer (3:48.89), Marco Bertolotti (3:49.58) and Tyler Stutzman (3:49.65) also has season bests.
In the 800 meters, Dylan Ferris (1:49.51) and Andrew Berberick (1:49.54) ran season bests, as did Spencer Castro (1:50.69). Justine Fedronic led the Cardinal women, running a personal best of 2:06.46 to rank No. 9 all-time at Stanford.
In the sprints, Amaechi Morton led the way with a victory in the men's 400 meters in a personal-best time of 46.52. The time moved Morton to fifth on the all-time Stanford list.
On the women's side Carissa Levingston won the 200 meters with a time of 23.67, while Hannah Farley ran a personal best of 54.64, which is 10th all-time at Stanford.
The women got a big result from Kori Carter in the 100-meter hurdles as she broke her own school record in the event. Carter ran 13.12 to break her record of 13.38 set earlier this season. Katie Nelms also ran well in the event, moving to third on the Stanford list with a personal best of 13.57.
The Cardinal throwers were paced by Eda Karesin who took the meet title in the women's javelin. Karesin tossed a personal best of 168-4, which ranks second in school history.
The men's throwers were paced by Geoffrey Tabor who won the shot put with a personal best of 58-3, which moves him into eighth place in Stanford history. Tabor also doubled up in the discus, finishing second with a throw of 187-6. Paul Hintz also threw a personal best of 211-0 to win the javelin. The throw by Hintz was the fourth best in school history.
Next up for the Cardinal is the Pac-10 Championships hosted by Arizona. The competition begins with the multi-event finals on Friday and Saturday. The rest of the Pac-10 meet will be Friday and Saturday, May 13-14.