Stanford contingent set for NCAA indoor track and field


Stanford sends 10 athletes to the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships that begin Friday in Fayetteville, Ark. In all, six men and four women will make the trip and compete in a total of five events -- four on the track and one in the field.

The Cardinal may have its best shots to win from the distance medley relays. The men are defending champions and have a season best barely a second from the top seed. The women were second last year and will showcase two of the most exciting freshmen in the country -- Olivia Baker and Elise Cranny.

Stanford seniors also will be vying for honors in individual events -- fifth-years Erik Olson and Jessica Tonn in the 3,000, and Darian Brooks in the triple jump.

The men's and women's DMRs have combined for five NCAA titles -- four for the men and one for the women -- and 18 top-five finishes in the distance medley relays (10 for the men and eight for the women). In no other event has Stanford won more NCAA indoor titles or has as much overall success.

Each Stanford team returns one member from 2014. Luke Lefebure and Claudia Saunders return to run the 800-meter legs for the Cardinal. The victorious 2014 men's team was, in order, Marco Bertolotti, Steven Solomon, Lefebure, and Michael Atchoo. Previous Stanford winners included Garrett Heath (2007), and Olympians Gabe Jennings (2000, 2001) and Michael Stember (2000). Stanford's 2000 women's champion was anchored by Lauren Fleshman. Except for the 2014 title, all Stanford's previous DMR championships were won at the Randal Tyson Center.

Stanford's women's DMR team is seeded No. 7, and its season best of 11:02.98 is five seconds from top-seeded Georgetown. Stanford's lineup of Tonn, Baker, Saunders, and Cranny includes two true freshmen -- Baker and Cranny.

Tonn, who also runs the 3,000 on Saturday, opens with the 1,200 leg. She has a range to 10,000, having won that event at the 2014 Pac-12 Championships, and is undefeated against collegiate competition in individual and relay events this indoor season.

Baker (52.46 personal best) won bronze in the 400 at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships. Saunders (2:02.68) was the NCAA outdoor runner-up last year in the 800. Cranny, who also will run the 3,000, was the top freshman at the NCAA cross country championships (12th place) and has a 1,500 PR of 4:10.95. She was fourth in that event at the World Juniors.

The foursome has run once together, winning the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title in 11:02.98 -- the No. 4 time in Stanford history.

Stanford's men's DMR team is seeded No. 6, but its season best of 9:29.34 is only one second from top-seeded Georgetown. Stanford's lineup of Thomas Coyle, Jackson Shumway, Lefebure, and Sean McGorty includes two sub-4 milers -- Coyle and McGorty. The team has run together once, placing second at Notre Dame's Alex Wilson Invitational.

In the triple jump, Brooks has set school records in each of his past two conference meets, outdoors and indoors. Brooks captured the MPSF title on Feb. 28. He reached 52-2 3/4 on his fourth jump to win by a foot and break Stanford's 2006 indoor mark of 51-10 1/2 by Solomon Welch. Last spring, Brooks set lifetime bests on his final four jumps at the Pac-12 Championships on the way to becoming Stanford's first conference men's triple jump champion since 1970. Trailing Arizona State's Josh Dixon by 3/4 of an inch with one jump left, Brooks responded with a 52-6 3/4 to win by 17 inches, breaking Allen Meredith's 1970 Stanford outdoor mark of 52-3.

Olson returns to the NCAA indoor meet after placing seventh in the 3,000 last year, and 12th in the 5,000. Olson has 5,000 best of 13:36.91 and recently placed second in the 3,000 at the MPSF championships, in 7:51.26.

— Stanford Athletics

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