In many ways, the Payton Jordan Invitational did what it was supposed to do -- provide fast distance-running times. Indeed, 65 runners achieved Olympic entry standards -- including 26 in the women's 10,000 meters alone -- and there were five world-leading times on Sunday night at Cobb Track & Angell Field.
The meet peaked when 41-year-old Bernard Lagat provided the night's signature moment after winning the 10,000 in a U.S.-leading time and Olympic qualifier, setting a world masters' record of 27:49.35 in the process. The Payton Jordan crowd, which always appreciates a good 10,000, was on its feet to honor the five-time world champion in his debut track 10K, and Lagat responded in turn by saluting and applauding the crowd in gratitude.
Moments like these define the meet, and brings out the best in Stanford. Sean McGorty ran the fastest collegiate men's 5,000 this year (13:24.25) while also slipping under the Olympic standard by less than a second.
Freshman Grant Fisher ran his debut track 5,000 so well, finishing the second section in 13:39.42, that he became the seventh-fastest junior (defined as 19 and under by the IAAF governing body) in American history.
Vanessa Fraser had a huge drop in time in the women's 5,000, dipping into the all-time Cardinal top 10, and teammate Elise Cranny matched Fisher's 5,000 debut with a memorable one of her own. Sophomore Olivia Baker got the breakthrough 800 she was looking for (2:01.02) and fifth-year senior Molly McNamara achieved her fourth lifetime best in as many meets this season, running a 2:04.61.
And none of these mentions include the dual of incoming Stanford freshmen Christina Aragon and Ella Donaghu the women's 1,500. In Section Three, Donaghu pulled off a 4:15.28 -- surpassing Aragon's 2015 effort as the fifth-fastest in high school history. About three hours later, Aragon did Donaghu even better, pulling away from some of the biggest names in U.S. women's middle-distance to win Section Two while clocking 4:11.24 -- the No. 4 high school time ever and No. 6 on the American junior list. With Cranny back as a junior next year, Stanford will have three of the six fastest girls' high school 1,500's in history, all on the same team.
But for all of its' distance-running glitter, the Payton Jordan pulled off some surprises.
Stanford All-America decathlete Harrison Williams provided a huge indication of his overall talent by winning the 110-meter hurdles in 13.88, to shatter his lifetime best in becoming the second-fastest high hurdler in Stanford history.
And first-team All-America discus Valarie Allman continues to put forth a remarkable season, winning the discus at 193-5 -- her third lifetime best in that event this season.
And there was the 400-meter duo of Gaby Gayles and fellow Cardinal sophomore Michaela Crunkleton Wilson, who each ran personal bests -- 53.59 for Gayles and 53.8 for Crunketon Wilson. The significance? Four Cardinal have now run sub-54 in the 400 and those four have not run a 4x400 relay together yet this season. But when they do, expect some fireworks and perhaps an assault on the school record.
Clearly, there was much for Stanford to celebrate Sunday. And better yet? There appears to be more to come.