Sports

McGorty runs to a personal best in quality indoor meet

 

Stanford junior Sean McGorty broke meet and track records at the Iowa State Classic indoor track and field meet, but won't see his name in the record books after finishing a close second in the 3,000 meters Friday in Ames, Iowa.

McGorty jumped from No. 10 to a tie with Jonathon Riley for No. 2 on Stanford's all-time indoor performers' list with a 7:48.79 and all but ensured himself a berth at the NCAA championships, March 11-12 in Birmingham, Ala. The top 16 marks earn admittance to nationals and Syracuse' Justyn Knight and McGorty have the two fastest times in the country after their duel.

The race, on Lied Recreational Center's 300-meter flat track, was designed to be fast, with a strong field looking for NCAA passage. McGorty stayed patient from as far back as ninth place on the early laps before navigating his way through the pack.

Coming up on four laps to go, McGorty pulled onto Knight's shoulder and, a lap later, overtook Knight and the rabbit to take the lead. McGorty continued to grind, but couldn't shake Knight, who set the Canadian junior national 5,000 record at Stanford's Payton Jordan Invitational last year.

Side by side down the homestretch, Knight finally edged McGorty at the line, winning in a national-leading 7:48.71. Both broke the meet and track record of 7:50.05, set by Arkansas' Michael Power in 1999.

"I'm really happy with how I was able to stay relaxed and work my way up before having a strong last 1K," McGorty said. "I need to also have more confidence in my final gears and to start using them earlier. Both times I've been passed, I feel like I'm gaining on them at the end."

This was the second consecutive meet McGorty was nipped at the line for first, following his runner-up DMR anchor at the Penn State National meet two weeks ago, when Penn State won.

"But it's great to get the qualifier out of the way and I'm thrilled to get a PR," said McGorty, whose best was 7:54.68.

McGorty now trails only Chris Derrick's 7:46.81 from 2012 in Stanford indoor history, passing 2011 NCAA 3,000 champion Elliott Heath's 7:50.14 in the process.

The qualification sets up the NCAA's nicely for McGorty, who will anchor the distance medley relay on Friday and on Saturday will run the 3,000, an event with no preliminary round. He becomes the fifth Stanford individual who likely has earned an NCAA berth, along with Olivia Baker (women's 800 meters), Darian Brooks (men's triple jump), Claudia Saunders (women's 800), and Harrison Williams (men's heptathlon). Both the men's and women's DMR's also will qualify.

Among other Stanford highlights, sophomore Isaiah Brandt-Sims, a receiver on Stanford's Rose Bowl-winning football team, made his collegiate indoor track debut and promptly ran 60 meters in the second-fastest time in school history. His 6.81 at the Don Kirby Elite Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was only 0.01 off Tyrone McGraw's 2010 school record.

Harrison Williams is among the top decathletes in the nation, but he's making a name for himself as a pole vaulter.

Williams and teammate Garrett Starkey established personal records at the same height, 17-3 ½, tying them for No. 4 on Stanford's all-time indoor performers' list.

The height was matched by teammate Dylan Duvio, who was third on fewer misses. Starkey and Williams were sixth and seventh, respectively, in Albuquerque.

Other Stanford top-10 list additions or improvements came from Michaela Crunkleton Wilson (women's 60, No. 9, 7.59) and Jackson Shumway (men's 200, No. 9, 21.78) in Albuquerque and Vanessa Fraser (women's 5,000, No. 7, 16:06.25) in Ames.

Stanford has athletes in three meets, including the Husky Classic in Seattle, where sophomore Tristen Newman had a three-foot personal record in the 35-pound weight throw (56-11 ¼). All three meets continue Saturday.

— David Kiefer/Stanford Athletics

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