Sports


The Cardinal's toughness is tested at Stanford Invitational

 

After the 3,300 athletes, thousands more spectators, and the hundred s of volunteers left Cobb Track and Angell Field, it seemed only the coaches remained to cart the starting blocks away and get the last of the equipment into the shed.

The planning and execution of the 39th Stanford Invitational had resulted in a track and field meet that braved downpours and uneven weather on Friday, welcomed the sun on Saturday, and was the site of exciting track and field throughout.

"One of the things we always talk about is this: Everybody's tough when things are perfect, who's tough when things aren't," said Stanford coach Chris Miltenberg.

The epitome of that was Friday night in the men's collegiate discus competition. From his vantage point, Miltenberg could overhear many throwers complaining about the rain.

"And Lucas Rowley quietly comes into the ring and does what he does all the time, put in a great effort, and stayed focused when things weren't perfect."

Rowley broke his personal record by 14 feet and won that competition with a throw of 174-9.

"That's a big testament to his toughness and where we're going," Miltenberg said.

Saturday's performances were centered around the field events. Darian Brooks broke his personal record in triple jump to progress to No. 9 on Stanford's all-time list, jumping 50-6 1/2 to finish third.

Freshman Valarie Allman continued her string of impressive performances, throwing the discus 184-5 to finish second the invitational. She has thrown farther than 180 feet in each of her first three meets to begin her collegiate career.

On the track, though Kristyn Williams' effort was hidden in the third leg of the second section of the 4x400 relay, she reeled off a split of 52.27. That was about a half-second faster than her winning 400 time of 52.70 from Friday.

"I never talk numbers with her, 'hit this mark and come through at this . . .' " said Stanford associate head coach Jody Stewart, who coaches the sprints and hurdles. "But there are things we want to improve on. The reality is, there's a lot of room to grow. It's early on and we're at that time of year where we're rebuilding the engine."

The champ of Friday's 1,500 meters, Tyler Stutzman, followed with a 1:49.87 to finish seventh in the 800 on Saturday in a personal record. Marco Bertolotti was not far behind in 1:50.93 for 13th in another personal best.

By dipping under 1:50, Stutzman further illustrated the strength and depth of Stanford's middle distance group. By the numbers:

• Three Stanford men have lifetime bests under 1:50 for 800.

• Seven are under 1:51.

• Four are under 3:45 for 1,500.

• Twelve are under 3:50

• Sixteen are under 3:52.

Last year, Stanford had four runners finish the year at 3:46 or faster in the 1,500. On Friday, Stanford had six at 3:47 or faster. And that was their first meet.

Stutzman's 1,500 victory Friday came despite not having any indoor eligibility this winter and running only one race unattached indoors. Still, he beat 2013 NCAA runner-up Zach Perkins of Air Force and Washington indoor mile All-America Izaic Yorks, among others, in a strong field and celebrated with assorted gyrations as he crossed the line.

"To run as decisively and assertively as he did over his last lap shows me that he's in a great spot," Miltenberg said. "Once he's clicking and race sharp, he's going to be running with anybody in America."

Miltenberg was just as excited about watching freshman Malika Waschmann, in her first collegiate outdoor meet, run a strong 4x400 anchor to bounce bad after a 400 hurdles debut that she probably would like to forget.

"Whether it's the first meet of the year or the NCAA championships, we're going to put forth the same level of effort," Miltenberg said. "Once we start hitting it, great things are going to come when we put in this kind of effort."

One other Stanford athlete had a big day, but it was in Melbourne, Australia, where Cardinal sophomore Steven Solomon won the 400 meters at the Australian national track and field championships Saturday while setting a school record of 45.36.

Solomon, a 2012 Olympic finalist, captured his third national 400 championship and earned a spot on Australia's team for the Commonwealth Games, to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from July 23-Aug. 3. He dominated the race, winning by 0.87.

Wearing his Stanford uniform, Solomon ran his fastest time since the London Olympics, when he clocked 44.97 in the semifinals. He broke the Stanford record of 45.85 that had been held by Rene Rodriguez since 1994. It also is the fifth-fastest outdoor time in the world this year.

Solomon next competes in the 120th running of the Big Meet, the annual dual between rivals Stanford and Cal. Solomon is scheduled to run the 400 and the 4x400 relay when the meet takes place at Cal's Edwards Stadium on Saturday, April 12.

— David Kiefer/Stanford Athletics

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