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Payton Jordan track meet was even better at second glance

 

To truly digest the Payton Jordan Invitational, it's best to give it a couple of days to marinate. Then, take small bites and chew slowly.

Perhaps that's the ideal way to take in what took place Sunday at Cobb Track and Angell Field during a track and field meet that annually serves as the nation's premier distance-running competition. Here are some delicacies to savor:

* * *

An illustration of the depth of talent in the fields:

Fifty-two men broke 14 minutes in the 5,000 meters.

Forty-one women broke 16 minutes in the 5,000.

Thirty-nine women broke 4:20 in the 1,500.

Thirty-four women broke 33 minutes in the 10,000.

Thirty-three men broke 29 minutes in the 10,000.

Twenty-six men broke 3:44 in the 1,500.

Twenty-two women broke 10:15 in the 3,000 steeplechase.

Twenty women broke 2:05 in the 800.

Seventeen men were under 8:40 in the steeplechase.

Nine men broke 1:49 in the 800.

* * *

OLIVIA BAKER saw it coming. So did everyone else who has been following her career at Stanford. The sophomore rolled a 2:01.02 in the 800 to drop her lifetime best by four seconds and become the collegiate leader at that distance.

"I believed it," Baker said. "I had a really great indoor season – I split 2:02 on the DMR back in January at Penn State. So, I knew that 2:02 or better in the open was a long time coming. Today was the perfect situation to do that. I had great competition. I'm in a great spot in my training. It was a beautiful day. I'm healthy and I'm feeling good."

When Baker arrived at Stanford last year as one of the top high school quartermilers in the nation, Miltenberg and then-sprints coach Jody Stewart saw great potential in the 800. She had shown a glimpse with a dramatic come-from-behind victory on the anchor leg of the high school 4x800 at the Penn Relays.

At Stanford, and now coached by Gabe Sanders, Baker has improved steadily. She ran 2:04.00 in the semifinals of the NCAA Outdoor Championships and had remained consistently at that standard, even earning a third-place finish at the NCAA Indoors in March.

On Sunday, Baker took fourth in a scorching race that featured six under 2:02, including five under the Olympic standard of 2:01.50. That means Baker will race at the Olympic trials in July as a person of interest, and now must be considered a legitimate threat to Oregon's Raevyn Rogers, a fellow sophomore and the reigning NCAA indoor and outdoor champion.

"I just put my head down and executed my race and was blessed to run a fast time," Baker said. "But there are still a lot of things I can learn from this race. At the trials, I'm going to have to place in the top three, and I came in fourth today. So, there's definitely a lot that I can learn and a lot that I can do better as a competitor and put myself in position to maybe make a U.S. final this season and maybe an Olympic team."

* * *

The meet featured three world-leading times, one meet record, three national records, one world masters record, and an NCAA Division II record:

The new world leaders:

Linden Hall of Australia in the women's 1,500 (4:04.47).

Sally Kipyego of Kenya in the 5,000 (14:58.60).

Matt Hughes of Canada in the men's steeplechase (8:22.31).

The meet record:

Devin Bogert in the men's javelin, throwing 248-6 (75.74m).

The national records:

Jose Luis Cruz of Peru in the men's 10,000 (27:54.80).

Alexi Pappas of Greece in the women's 10,000 (31:46.85).

Sarah Lahti of Sweden in the women's 10,000 (31:54.87),

The world masters record:

Bernard Lagat, 41, of the U.S., won the men's 10,000 in 27:49.35.

The NCAA Divison II record:

Carsyn Koch of Cedarville, in the women's 800 (2:02.39).

* * *

SEAN McGORTY learned a valuable lesson from last year's Payton Jordan – to run fast, it's best to slow down. That was how he achieved an Olympic standard Sunday and joined Baker as a Stanford collegiate leader.

Last year, running in Section Two of the 5,000, McGorty took off with the rabbit and pushed too hard early. He ended up struggling down the stretch to a 13:48.14 – 11 seconds slower than he ran while redshirting as a freshman a year earlier.

"I admit last year I really got ahead of myself," McGorty said. "I wanted to run a fast time, and the rabbit goes out and I'm right on his shoulder pressing and not running comfortable. That was a big learning experience."

This time, McGorty stayed patient, moved up throughout the race and pushed hard during a 60-second final lap to pass Villanova star Patrick Tiernan down the stretch and finish seventh in the top section in 13:24.25 – breaking the Olympic standard by 0.75 to fulfill a season goal. It was the fastest time by a collegian this year and placed McGorty at No. 3 all-time outdoors at Stanford, behind only Olympians Ian Dobson and Ryan Hall, and No. 4 on the absolute list, with Chris Derrick ahead as well.

McGorty now is the No. 10 all-time among American collegians.

The top seven placers Sunday broke the Olympic standard, and McGorty's victories over the other three collegians in the field were significant. Tiernan, an Australian, was runner-up to Oregon's Edward Cheserek at the NCAA cross country championships last fall. In this race, Tiernan ran the second-fastest 5,000 ever for Villanova (behind only Sydney Maree), and Syracuse's Justyn Knight and Virginia Tech's Thomas Curtin set school records. They finished ninth, 10th, and 12th, respectively.

"Sean was a big-time competitor," said Chris Miltenberg, Stanford's Franklin P. Johnson Director of Track and Field. "Chris Derrick's in there, Garrett Heath is there. Those are guys he looks up to. But he also isn't afraid to go after it.

"We even talked going into it, 'This is another step in your growth and development, to run a '5' at a really high level and really race that final mile' -- the last lap was the best lap I've ever seen him run. It's something we've been building for a long time. Yes, he got the Olympic standard. But, more importantly, he raced."

This was the first 5,000 for McGorty since he placed eighth at the NCAA Outdoors in Eugene last June.

"What Coach Milt has really helped me learn is, You're going to run fast, but you don't have to be on the gun waiting for that to happen every single lap,'" McGorty said. "When I've tried to do that, it didn't go well for me. The next step is trying to finish higher and be up there at the end with those guys. I've got a little while to go, but that's definitely motivation."

McGorty has qualified for the Olympic trials in both the 1,500 and 5,000. Miltenberg said that McGorty's reaching the Olympic standard in the 5,000 probably won't influence his preparation for NCAA's or the decision on which event to run at the Trials just yet.

"The best part with Sean now is this is all still building toward the future," Miltenberg said. "I'd love for him to make the second round of the trials and be in the final. I think that's totally realistic. I think he's going to have a great experience and mix it up. I never say never, but this one will be about getting ready for the next four years. "

* * *

The meet featured nine American-leading times:

Men

1,500: Izaic Yorks, 3:37.64

5,000: Shadrack Kipchirchir, 13:18.52

10,000: Bernard Lagat, 27:49.35.

Steeplechase: Stanley Kebenei, 8:22.85

Women

800: Chrishuna Williams, 2:00.58

Steeplechase: Courtney Frerichs, 9:29.31

5,000: Nicole Tully, 15:04.08

10,000: Marielle Hall, 31:37.45

* * *

STANFORD FANS LEFT WITH great anticipation after watching two future Cardinal throw down 1,500's of historical proportions.

First, Ella Donaghu of Grant High in Portland, Oregon, ran 4:15.28 to finish second, barely, in Section Three, beating a collection of collegiate and postgraduates, such as former Villanova star Emily Lipari.

The time was a personal record by five seconds and placed her No. 5 on the national all-time high school performers' list, displacing Christina Aragon, a current senior at Billings (Mont.) Senior High, who ran 4:16.36 at last year's Payton Jordan.

But three hours later, Aragon made a bold move from last to first on the final lap of Section Two, pulling away from the likes of past NCAA 800 champions Phoebe Wright and Laura Roesler on the way to a 4:11.24 – making her the No. 4 high school perfomer ever (dropping Donaghu to No. 6) and No. 6 on the all-time American junior list (19 and under).

"That was awesome," Miltenberg said. "The most exciting part with Ella and Christina was how tough they competed. So many people come to this meet and they just want to run time trials. No one told these girls that. They came just to race and beat people. That to me is my favorite part. It's an awesome sign of what's to come for them."

With Elise Cranny, who ran 4:10.95 at Payton Jordan when she was in high school, at No. 3, Stanford will have three of the six fastest high school girls' 1,500 runners in history as teammates next season.

Aragon planned to be conservative relative to the rest of the field and it worked in her favor.

"They said the rabbit was going to go through in 2:14-ish," Aragon said. "I can't say I was ready to go through the first 800 in 2:14, so, I knew I would be more in my comfort zone if I hung back for the first two laps and analyzed how I felt. If I had something left, I'd start moving. If I didn't, I'd hang on to the back and try to let them pull me. I wasn't completely sure of an exact time I was going for today, but I wanted to PR."

Aragon and Donaghu have developed a friendship from being at many of the same national meets, and from their interest in Stanford. Aragon cheered for Donaghu as she ran and Donaghu did the same for Aragon.

"I was so excited I got to see her race," Aragon said. "It's so awesome. That even got me psyched. She's one of the best friends that I've met at all these races and I'm so excited to be teammates with her next year.

"It's just awesome getting to run here, knowing this is where I'm coming. This is the first time I've come here and known that I'm part of the Stanford team. It's going to be awesome to train with all those girls. I'm going to have so many training partners and so many girls that are going to push me. That's what running is about. You want to go somewhere where where you're going to be pushed by your teammates and you're all going to be able to improve."

Aragon and Donaghu are part of a five-person recruiting class of girls' distance runners unparalled in the country. Two weeks ago, at the Stanford Twilight meet, another of the class, Fiona O'Keeffe of Davis (Calif.) High ran 16:28.35 to become the No. 2 all-time California high school performer at 5,000. The class also includes Pennsylvania's Sarah Walker and Connecticut's Hannah DeBalsi.

Donaghu said she has met three of the others in person and the other through Facebook messages and texts.

"It's going to be super fun, I love them all," Donaghu said. "They're so nice. Being teammates is only going to make us run better."

One thing that concerned Donaghu before she committed to Stanford was how overwhelming the academic load might be over everything else. Instead, after visiting and meeting the team, she discovered that they have fun too and the experience can be whatever you make of it.

"Honestly, the place was great," Donaghu said. "But what pushed me over the edge was just the team and the coaches and the atmosphere that the coaches have created here. I thought when I came here it would be super stressed, but everyone is having is having such a fun time. They all generally love running. That's just a recipe for great team success and a lot of fun. That was really what made me want to come here."

Donaghu was looking forward to racing, rather than leading, as she does in most of her high school meets.

"I don't get many good races in my high school season," she said. "So, I just wanted to come down here and run really hard. It feels really good. I've known I could run this fast for a while, I just have never really had the right chance to do it.

"I really love racing. I love getting in there and just trying to beat people. That's what I love doing. I knew in this race I would have the chance to do that. That was the game-changer, not worrying about leading and just going with the flow for 800 and getting in position to have a good final push."

"Now, I'm just going to reflect on this and get my legs fresh again and have a good final senior year."

* * *

Seven collegiate-leading times were achieved Sunday:

Men

1,500: Izaic Yorks, Washington, 3:37.64.

Steeplechase: Mason Ferlic, Michigan, 8:28.77

5,000: Sean McGorty, Stanford, 13:24.25

10,000: Futsum Zienasellassie, Northern Arizona, 27:52.70

Women

800: Olivia Baker, Stanford, 2:01.02

Steeplechase: Courtney Frerichs, New Mexico, 9:29.31

10,000: Dominique Scott-Efurd, Arkansas, 31:56.84

* * *

STANFORD FRESHMAN Grant Fisher had run plenty of 5K's, but never in a race on the track – until Sunday. In his debut effort at 5,000, Fisher uncorked a 59-second final lap on the way to a 13:39.42 – placing him No. 9 all-time among American juniors and No. 2 behind Chris Derrick on Stanford's all-time freshmen list.

"It felt a lot like a high school 2-mile," Fisher said. "It was definitely different than lining up on some grass for a high school cross country race at that distance, where you're just feeling it out on a bumpy surface. This one felt super calculated. There were three rabbits in there. It was definitely different."

Fisher felt relaxed at the 66-second laps, as compared to the 59's and 60's he pushes in running the 1,500. But … "those 66's add up pretty quick. Halfway through, I was starting to feel it a little bit. I latched on to Erik Olson and Jack Keelan. Without those guys, my race would have been a disaster. We definitely worked really well as a group and moved up. Without each other we would have been pretty sporadic and caught in big gaps. They made it a lot easier."

Olson is a Stanford graduate and Keelan is a junior who ran 13:46.95 – not a personal record, but a significant time considering he was laid up for much of January with mono.

"I'm back," Keelan said.

Fisher said the pain was different than he typically experiences in a 1,500 or mile.

"In a '15', you're feeling muscular pain," he said. "In this, you're feeling cardio strain. It felt like I was gasping for air. In a '15,' your legs just hurt really bad. if a gap opens, you have to close it quick and make those split-second decisions. It has to be a pretty aggressive move. Here, if you make too aggressive of a move, it's going to tank you at the end of the race."

All in all, it was a promising time for Fisher, even though it was meant as a strength training exercise. Still, Fisher's Payton Jordan 5,000 could offer a peak into his future. Fisher will undoubtedly grow in strength, speed, and physical and mental maturity in the next three years and beyond. If he can run this fast now, it's not hard to project something special if he's more experienced, and training for the distance. The possibilities seem immense.

"Maybe this is in my future and maybe it's not," Fisher said. "Right now, I really like the '15.' We'll see. I guess I'm open to whatever. "

* * *

Seventeen school records were set at the Payton Jordan:

Men

1,500:

Izaic Yorks, Washington, 3:37.64.

5,000:

Justyn Knight, Syracuse, 13:27.23

Thomas Curtin, Virginia Tech, 13:33.88

Jacob Thomson, Kentucky, 13:43.49

10,000:

Futsum Zienasellassie, Northern Arizona, 27:52.70

4x100:

New Mexico: Allan Hamilton, Scott Bajere, Carlos Salcido, Ridge Jones; 40.20 (broke 50-year-old record)

Women

100:

Caitlin Wilson, San Jose State, 11.76

200:

Daye Shon Roberson, Oklahoma, 22.65

Caitlin Wilson, San Jose State, 24.14

800:

Carsyn Koch, Cedarville, 2:02.39

1,500:

Sophie Connor, New Mexico, 4:14.03

Steeplechase:

Courtney Frerichs, New Mexico, 9:29.31

Sarah Scott, Oklahoma, 10:28.29

5,000:

Callie Thackery, New Mexico, 15:37.44

Emily Bean, Mississippi, 16:30.33

10,000:

Dominique Scott-Efurd, Arkansas, 31:56.84

Javelin:

Jojo Ananouko, San Francisco, 145-0 (44.20m)

* * *

VANESSA FRASER came to Stanford as a walk-on. Although coaches around Santa Cruz County, where she grew up, are quick to remind you that they always knew Fraser had much more potential than that status might indicate.

Every year, the junior hammers that point home at the Payton Jordan. Her 16:22.64 was a huge personal record in her freshman year at the 2014 Payton Jordan. Her 15:54.12 as a sophomore was another mammoth improvement on the way to an NCAA second-team All-America finish.

This year? How about 15:41.64, while placing fifth in Section Two. And she finally snuck into Stanford's formidable all-time Top 10 list, at No. 10.

"It was good for my development to be an 'underdog' I guess," Fraser said. "I never anticipated my full potential and I didn't really have any expectations. That worked well for me because I was just focusing on becoming a little bit better every day, and that eventually builds up. It allowed me to focus on myself and not worry too much about outside pressures."

Elise Cranny, a sophomore, ran a 15:49.27 in the same race. It was her first-ever 5,000 on the track. She placed 11th.

"It's good," she said. "But I'm slightly disappointed. In the middle, I kind of fell off the pace. I wish I could have stayed with 'Ness. But, I learned a lot from it. I hope I can run it more and keep improving."

* * *

The volume of marks established Sunday on the world and American season lists:

Women's 5,000: The top seven in the world and the top eight in the U.S.

Women's 10,000: 13 of top the 18 in the world this year; The top 37 in the U.S. in the women's 10,000 achieved their best times at Stanford, in the Payton Jordan or Stanford Invitational.

Men's steeplechase: 11 of the top 16 in the world; 18 of the top 24 in the U.S.

Women's 800: seven of the top 10 in the world; five of the top seven in the U.S.

Men's 5,000: Three of the top five in the world; The top seven in the U.S.

Men's 10,000: Seven of the top 15 in the world.

Women's 1,500: nine of the top 19 in the world; 10 of the top 20 in U.S.

Women's steeplechase: Five of top 20 in world; six of the top 12 in the U.S.

* * *

STANFORD SENIOR POLE VAULTER Dan Emery did not have his best day at the Payton Jordan, jumping 15-6 1/2. His season and lifetime best is 16-6 ¾. However, it was his first meet since returning from Vienna, Austria, where he addressed the European Geosciences Union General Assembly.

Emery presented a paper entitled: Elastic and Transport Properties of Steam-Cured Pozzolanic-Lime Rock Composites Upon CO2 Injection.

Emery, a geophysics major, presented the idea of an ash-based concrete that is more flexible than normal concrete and would benefit communities in earthquake-prone areas. Also, it requires 20 percent less carbon dioxide to produce.

Emery said he enjoyed the experience and will next work on producing and testing the product before deciding where to turn next.

All in a day's work at the Payton Jordan.

* * *

How many achieved Olympic standard times at Payton Jordan? Sixty-seven. Here's the breakdown:

Women's 10,000: 26

Men's 10,000: 8

Women's 5,000: 8

Men's 5,000: 7

Men's steeplechase: 7

Women's 800: 5

Women's steeplechase: 3

Women's 200: 2

Women's 400: 2

Women's 1,500: 1

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