Stanford should play a prominent role in the Pac-12 cross country championships on Friday, with expected contenders among both men and women at the Metropolitan Golf Links in Oakland.
The women's 6K race goes off at 10 a.m., followed by the men's 8K race at 11 a.m. The meet will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks and broadcast Nov. 3 at 6 p.m.
It's possible that the NCAA individual champions, if not team champions, will come out of this race, with reigning national champ Edward Cheserek and Arizona State's Shelby Houlihan among the favorites.
But, Stanford has some intriguing competitors as well, with Wisconsin Invitational winner Maksim Korolev and fellow All-America Joe Rosa among the men and freshman Elise Cranny, the Washington Invitational champion, among the women.
Stanford will be gunning for its first conference team titles since 2010, when the Cardinal won both races. This year, the meet promises to be a shootout with five Pac-12 men's teams ranked among the national top 12 and five women's teams among the top 22.
The meet will mark the season debut of Cardinal sophomore Sean McGorty, the 2014 U.S. and NACAC cross country champion, and the first appearance of all of Stanford's best available men in the same race.
After Pac-12's, Stanford will host the NCAA West Regional on Nov. 14 at Stanford Golf Course, and attempt to advance to the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 22.
With the addition of McGorty, this will be Stanford's first race with essentially the team that will compete at the NCAA Championships. The Cardinal ran its first race with its 'A' team on Oct. 17 at the Wisconsin Invitational, finishing fifth as a team and getting an individual title from Maksim Korolev against a high-powered field that included six top-10 teams.
Along with Joe Rosa's eighth-place finish, Stanford joined Northern Arizona as the only schools to place two among the top 10.
McGorty has been working his way back from injury since last spring, and is expected to be at full strength by nationals. McGorty (13:37.64) is among four members of this Stanford team who have run sub-14 for 5,000 meters, joining Rosa (13:31.69), Korolev (13:42.56, 29:13.80), and Jack Keelan (13:55.59). A fifth, 2013 NCAA fifth-place finisher Jim Rosa (13:50.55, 28:57.51), is redshirting because of injury.
The No. 11-ranked Cardinal women will bear watching in the coming years. World Junior 1,500 fourth-placer Elise Cranny leads a squad that could include three freshmen, three sophomores (all in their first seasons of eligibility), two juniors, and a senior. In other words, seven of their expected top nine are in their first collegiate seasons.
Cranny, the 2014 U.S. junior national cross-country champ, had a memorable collegiate debut, winning the Washington Invitational on Oct. 4. In her second race, she was seventh at the Wisconsin Invitational. Stanford, however, is missing 2014 NCAA cross-country fourth-place finisher Aisling Cuffe, the NCAA indoor and outdoor 5,000 runner-up, who will likely redshirt because of injury.