Wrong turns and bloody noses did not stop Stanford runners


A wrong turn didn't faze Joe Rosa and Maksim Korolev on their way to victory at the 41st Stanford Cross Country Invitational on Saturday at the Stanford Golf Course.

The Stanford pair, who led from start to finish on the 8-kilometer (4.97-mile) course, briefly went off track. That is, Korolev did.

The All-America graduate transfer from Harvard had never run on the course or in a Stanford uniform and his unfamiliarity cost him when he turned the wrong direction late in the race.

Rosa quickly corrected his teammate and the pair lost only about five seconds on the way to a 19-second individual men's victory.

Rosa took first though he and Korolev intentionally came across together, with both clocked in 23:16. They intended to hold hands across the line, but were told that was a violation and released their grip.

Running with a split squad in both races, Stanford was first among women (71 points) and third for the men, with the top three teams (Washington State 73, UC Santa Barbara 74) separated by only two points.

Most of the younger runners, including the outstanding women's freshman class, were saved for the University of Washington Invitational on Oct. 3.

Stanford sophomore Emma Fisher overcame a terrifying fall to place 11th overall and No. 1 among the Cardinal women, nearly even with teammate Molly McNamara, with both timed in 21:17 over 6 kilometers (3.73 miles), though only Fisher finished with a bloody nose.

Washington State's Abby Regan won the race in 20:31, overtaking Alexa Efraimson, a high school senior from Camus, Wash., who led most of the way.

Efraimson, competing for the first time since signing a professional contract with Nike, had a substantial lead down the homestretch until her legs began to buckle. Efraimson collapsed with 80 yards to go and was passed by Regan.

Efraimson regained her feet, but labored to the finish, losing one more spot, and barely holding on for third before her legs gave out again as she crossed the line, in 20:46.

Fisher's race was harrowing in a different way.

"About 150 meters in, right around the first curve, it got really rough," she said. "The footing wasn't so great and we were all packed in there. I don't know exactly what happened, but suddenly I was on the ground."

Fisher twice tried to get up, but as she did, she was struck by several runners, causing a huge pileup.

"I put my arms over my head and tucked in," she said. "People were stepping on me, on my back and arms."

After waiting for the masses to pass by, a stunned Fisher took a moment to regain her senses before bolting back toward the pack.

"After a couple of steps, I felt really good," she said. "I felt rejuvenated. I think the fall helped me. It gave me a little anger, like, go get 'em."

Stanford earned the team victory by 23 points over runner-up UC Davis, but more importantly was the way the team ran, with a purpose.

The plan for both the men and women was to go out hard, almost excessively fast, and deal with running under duress as a training tool.

"That was a shock to their systems for sure and that was exactly the desired effect," Cardinal coach Chris Miltenberg said. "We wanted to get in that debt and learn how to regroup, compose and work through it. I thought we nailed that today, and it was hard. But what you saw was both the men and women over the second half got better."

Cameron Miller, a junior making his first Stanford cross country appearance, was the Cardinal's No. 3 in 23rd, Jack Bordoni was 34th and Thomas Coyle 58th. Blair Hurlock, a freshman running unattached to protect a possible redshirt year, was 22nd in 24:20.

Stanford's top five women finished within 15 places and 28 seconds of each other, with Rebecca Mehra 14th, freshman Julia Maxwell 19th in her collegiate debut, and Vanessa Fraser 26th.

"I tell them, everybody's tough when they feel good," Miltenberg said. "You've got to learn to regroup and be positive when you don't feel great. You don't necessarily control how you feel, you control how you respond to how you feel."

Stanford expects to run close to its full squad at the Wisconsin Invitational on Oct. 18 and then begins the postseason, with the NCAA West Regional coming to Stanford on Nov. 14.

Men's water polo

Second-ranked Stanford swept Chapman and Occidental by a combined score of 51-4 at the Aggie Shootout on Saturday, giving coach John Vargas career victories 249 and 250.

The Cardinal (8-1) opened the morning with a 26-3 victory over the Panthers and widened that margin of victory in the evening, dispatching the Tigers 25-1.

Junior driver Bret Bonanni scored seven times in the two games, inching closer to the rarified air of Stanford's 200-goal club. He entered the tournament with 191 in just over two years on The Farm and now has 198. At the Kap7 NorCal Classic last weekend, senior utility Alex Bowen hit the impressive milestone.

Vargas, in his 13th year at the helm of the Cardinal program, has won 76.2 percent of his games at Stanford (250 of 328).

Sam Pfeil led the way with a career-high five goals, and 12 different Cardinal scored in Stanford's tournament-opening victory against Chapman.

Griffin Bolan scored four goals for the first time in a game in nearly a year, Bonnani, Bowen, Cody Smith and Adam Abdulhamid each added three goals to pace the Cardinal to the victory over Occidental.

— Stanford Athletics

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