Ekaterini (Katerina) Stefanidi finished third at the IAAF World Indoor Track and Field Championships on Thursday night in Portland, Ore., to become the first Stanford-affiliated women's pole vaulter to medal at a world championships or Olympics.
Stefanidi (Class of '12) cleared 15 feet, 9 inches to trail only Americans Jennifer Suhr (16-0 3/4) and Sandi Morris (15-11). Competing for Greece, Stefanidi became the third Stanford vaulter to win a world competition medal, among men or women, following Toby Stevenson '00 (silver, 2004 Olympics) and Bill Miller (gold, 1932 Olympics).
Stefanidi, 26, opened at 14-9 and was perfect at every height through her final clearance. She took one jump and failed at 15-11, but passed to 16-0 3/4, her Greek indoor record set in winning the Millrose Games last month, for her final two tries knowing that only a clearance at that height would improve her place.
At Stanford, Stefanidi was a two-time NCAA champion and continues to hold the school record of 14-9 1/2. She competed at the 2012 Olympics and 2015 World Championships without reaching the finals, and was ranked No. 6 in the world last year by Track & Field News.
One more Stanford alum competes at World Indoors -- women's shot putter Jillian Camarena-Williams ('04) on Saturday.
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Dylan Duvio and Valarie Allman, first-team All-Americans last year, will open their outdoor seasons Saturday at the Hornet Invitational at Sacramento State.
Duvio was third in the men's pole vault and Allman, the Pac-12 champion, was fifth in the women's discus at NCAA Outdoors last year. They headline a contingent of 40 Stanford athletes -- the largest of any meet indoors or outdoors -- this year.
Eight Cardinal freshmen will make their collegiate debut -- hurdler Lucas Ege, sprinter Zac Espinoza, sprinter Amit Maity, high jumper Trevor Rex, and sprinter Isaac Westlund for the men; and hurdler Hannah Labrie-Smith, sprinter Missy Mongiovi, and pole vaulter Nicole Summersett for the women.
Among the other Stanford athletes to pay close attention to is sophomore 400 hurdler Daniel Brady, who suffered sudden hearing loss last season, limiting his training. He didn't hit his stride until late in the year, which he capped with a personal record 52.36 at the Pan Am Junior Championships in his native Canada in August. This will be his first 400 hurdles race since then.
Looking sharp in training has been Labrie-Smith, who will make her collegiate debut while running the 400 hurdles for the first time. In 2014, Labrie-Smith of San Diego's Cathedral Catholic High School ran 42.24 in the 300 hurdles at the Arcadia Invitational to break a 31-year-old San Diego Section record held by Olympic gold medalist Gail Devers. Labrie-Smith dropped that time to 41.67 to win the California state title.
The final event, the men's 4x400 relay, includes three Stanford teams. Most intriguing is an all-freshmen quartet of Maity, Ege, Westlund, and Espinosa. The relay that Stanford will field at the Big Meet and Pac-12 Championships is very much open. Jackson Shumway and Harrison Williams, low-47 runners who are idle this week, are presumed to be locks, but there will be a big fight for the other spots and a lot of candidates to fill them.