Maksim Korolev, a Stanford graduate student in management science and engineering, made a bold move with 300 meters left to win the high-powered Wisconsin Invitational cross country meet Friday in Madison.
In a meet that included six top-10 teams and 19 of the Top 30 in the USTFCCCA coaches' rankings, Korolev and Joe Rosa (eighth) paced the Stanford men to fifth as a team (220 points).
Freshman Elise Cranny finished seventh to lead the Stanford women to seventh (284 points) in another high-caliber field that included 22 teams among the Top 30.
Korolev and Rosa bided their time in a large pack that stayed together because of a slow early pace. But as the pace picked up in the 8-kilometer race at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course, both moved to the front.
Finally, the lead pack began to dwindle and Rosa dropped back. The race became a dual between Korolev and Northern Arizona's Futsum Zienasellassie, the third- and fourth-place finishers at last year's NCAA Championships. With 300 to go, Korolev dropped the hammer and won going away in 23:43, with Zienasellassie four seconds back. Rosa clocked in 23:56, making Stanford and Northern Arizona the only schools with two runners each among the top 10.
"I didn't know when I was going to go," Korolev told Flotrack.org. "I was just focusing on staying behind those front guys and being ready to move, and be ready to hit it home."
This is the second race and first season at Stanford for the 6-foot-4 Korolev, who graduated from Harvard last spring with a degree in human development and regenerative biology, but had a fifth season of eligibility to use.
The performance also proved that he is at full strength after struggling with injuries during the 2014 track season with the Crimson.
"It's especially helpful to work out with Joe and (Stanford track All-America) Erik Olson," Korolev said. "It's given me confidence during those workouts with them."
No. 7-ranked Stanford, which will unveil one more of its top runners, Sean McGorty, when it competes at Pac-12s in two weeks, had a strong performance with its Nos. 3-7 runners finishing within 27 seconds of each other. Garrett Sweatt paced that group in 56th in 24:23.
Cranny, coming off a victory at the Washington Invitational in her collegiate debut, ran with the lead pack over the first 4 kilometers of the 6K race. However, Michigan State's Rachele Schulist and eventual winner Crystal Nelson of Iowa State, pulled away over the final third.
Cranny ran 19:53 to lead the Cardinal, with Sophie Chase next in 56th (20:46), followed by Rebecca Mehra in 67th (20:51).
In the women's open race, Stanford sophomore Vanessa Fraser captured the victory in 20:56.