Sports


McNamara qualifies for her first NCAA track and field finals

 

Stanford's fifth-year senior Molly McNamara qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships for the first time and is in line for her first All-America honor.

McNamara (4:17.20) and sophomore teammate Elise Cranny (4:21.93) each qualified in the women's 1,500 meters by finishing second in their heats on Saturday at the NCAA West Preliminary meet.

Aisling Cuffe (16:08.45) and Vanessa Fraser (16:10.57) qualified in the 5,000, and Valarie Allman advanced in the discus, after qualifying in the hammer on Friday.

However, Stanford senior Justin Brinkley missed his first NCAA Outdoor berth by 0.007 in a photo finish in the men's 1,500. Three-time Pac-12 men's triple jump champion Darian Brooks also failed to qualify.

The meet was in progress at this posting, but Stanford had advanced 10 individuals to the NCAA's, with more expected in the men's 5,000 and possibly the 4x400 relays.

The NCAA West Prelims is a qualifying meet that winnows 48 in each event to 12 for the NCAA Championships June 8-11 in Eugene, Oregon. Because Thursday's competition was wiped out by thunderstorms, three days of action were condensed into two, meaning two rounds of every event 1,500 and shorter were instead run in one.

Combined with those advancing from the East Prelims in Jacksonville, Florida, the 24 individuals were determined for the NCAA Championships, and would earn All-America honors by completing their events in Eugene.

McNamara used a strong finishing kick to finish second in her heat in a three-runner blanket finish to earn the automatic spot. She had been having a career year, with massive lifetime bests in the 1,500 and 800, but was disappointed with her 13th place finish at the Pac-12 Championships.

In two previous tries at the West Prelims, McNamara had finished 21st and 48th. This time, she remained in control and in contact going into the final 100 of Heat 1. Her kick was enough to pass Oregon's Annie Leblanc (4:17.36) and was just short of Colorado's Dani Jones (4:17.16). The top four all qualified.

McNamara's first trip to NCAA's was a great reward for a career that's been impactful on and off the track. McNamara is not only a trusted team leader, but she founded Cardinal RHED, a mental health advocacy group for Stanford student-athletes, and in 2015 won the Stanford Athletic Board's Donald Kennedy Award for her performance and service.

Cranny and teammate Rebecca Mehra, the top two finishers at the Pac-12 Championships, were in Heat 2 and vying for spots as the race evolved.

Cranny found room on the inside to push ahead in a two-runner race with Fresno State's Annemarie Schwanz to the finish. Mehra also made a move, but was unable to match the top two. She finished third, but her time of 4:22.33 was out of the running to qualify on time. She was 15th overall and would have needed a 4:18.66 to advance.

Malika Waschmann was third in Heat 4, but her 4:24.97 also left her outside qualifying position, in 21st overall.

In Heat 2 of the men's 1,500, Brinkley tried to avoid getting boxed in a tight pack, which happened to teammate Tom Coyle, by going wide over the final 600. He stayed out of trouble and then pushed hard off the final turn.

Oregon's Blake Haney took what seemed a comfortable lead down the stretch while Brinkley and Boise State's David Elliott fought for the second. Brinkley had a lead and then Elliott moved slightly ahead. As they approached the finish, Haney eased up just a bit allowing Brinkley and Elliott to nearly catch him in a photo finish.

Haney won in 3:46.41, Elliott was second in 3:46.452 for the automatic qualifying spot, and Brinkley was out of luck at 3:46.459.

In the women's 5,000, Cuffe and Fraser moved into a four-runner lead pack by midway in Heat 1 and held their maintained their spots.

Cuffe moved to the front 700 left and was content to finish second in 16:08.45 and Fraser settled into fourth in 16:10.57, well among the five automatic qualifying positions.

Allman, a junior, advanced to her third NCAA Championships, after finishing fifth last year. Her 182-9 came on her second of three throws. Her first was 158-2, which would not have been enough, and her third was a foul.

Brooks got off only a 47-0 on his first jump, got off a 50-8 on his second, but fouled on his third. He was 21st overall and teammate Jaak Uudmae was 19th at 50-10.

Men's golf

The second round of the NCAA Championships saw the top-ranked Stanford men's golf team dip two spots down the leaderboard Saturday at Eugene Country Club.

Stanford posted a 14-over 294, as Maverick McNealy set the pace with a 1-over 71 at the par-70 track.

With one round remaining until the field will be trimmed to 15 teams, Stanford is tied for 26th overall with Virginia. Kentucky, Georgia, Auburn and Clemson currently are 15th at 15-over.

Vanderbilt (+3) leads the 30-team field and USC's Justin Suh is at 5-under, the best among individuals.

Stanford went 10-over on the front but was six strokes better on the back, where McNealy eagled the par-5 15th and David Boote and Brandon Wu contributed birdies.

McNealy got to 1-under after back-to-back birdies on holes four and five. Two straight bogeys put him at 1-over, and he was 2-over heading into the 15th. He followed his eagle with a bogey on 16, then posted par on the final two holes.

Boote was 4-over through six, and then rattled off 10 straight pars. He ended the day by sinking a bending 25-foot birdie putt on 18.

Boote followed his opening-round 69 with a 73, and is tied for 35th at 2-over.

Franklin Huang and Brandon Wu were 5-over, and Jeffrey Swegle signed off on a 76.

Women rowing

Highlighted by a victory from the varsity eight in its semifinal heat, two Stanford boats advanced to the Grand Final of the NCAA Division I championships during Saturday's action-packed day of racing at Lake Natoma.

Stanford's varsity eight and varsity four will each race for a NCAA Championship Sunday morning.

Needing a top-three finish to advance to Sunday's Grand Final, the Cardinal's top boat won its semifinal heat, while the varsity four placed third in its semifinal heat. The second varsity eight placed fifth in its semifinal heat and will race in the Petite Final on Sunday.

Stanford, the No. 2 seed in the varsity eight, opened its A/B semifinal heat four seats back of Princeton for the lead in the first 250 meters. The Cardinal held a one-seat advantage on Brown for second place as the boats approached 500 meters. Stanford began to make its move, taking water away from Princeton.

The Cardinal was within two seats of the Tigers at the midpoint of the course. Stanford pushed its bow ahead of Princeton and into the lead as the boats approached the final 750 meters.

In one of the closest races of the NCAA Championships, Stanford won by a deck length with a time of 6:18.911. Brown took second with a time of 6:19.515, .035 ahead of third-place Princeton (6:19.550). The Tigers edged out Texas by .090 for the final spot in the Grand Final.

Stanford will face Princeton, Brown, California, Ohio State and Virginia in Sunday's NCAA Varsity Eight Grand Final.

Stanford's varsity four, the No. 9 seed in the event, opened a one-seat lead on second-place Yale in the first 500 meters of its A/B Semifinal heat. Virginia made an early move to overtake Yale for second and pulled level with the Cardinal at the 750-meter mark. Stanford and Virginia jockeyed for the lead at the midpoint of the course.

The Cavaliers moved into the lead and Ohio State pulled level with Stanford for second with 750 meters to go. The Buckeyes overtook the Cardinal in the final 500 meters. Virginia won the heat with a time of 7:12.272, while Ohio State edged out Stanford for second place by .024 (7:13.784 – 7:14.008). All three boats advanced to the Grand Final.

Stanford will face Virginia, Ohio State, California, Michigan and Washington in Sunday's NCAA Varsity Four Grand Final.

The Cardinal second varsity eight, the No. 8 seed in the event, challenged Princeton for third place in the first 500 meters of its A/B Semifinal heat.

The Tigers made a move and pulled ahead by five seats at the 750-meter mark. Yale made a move to surge ahead of the Cardinal for fourth place at the midpoint of the course.

Stanford tried to take back water from the top four boats over the final sprint, but could not catch the leaders. The Cardinal placed fifth with a time of 6:36.770 and will race in the NCAA Petite Final.

Stanford will face Brown, Yale, Michigan, Wisconsin and Washington in Sunday's NCAA Second Varsity Eight Petite Final.

Sailing

Stanford completed the first day of the LaserPerformance Team Race Nationals with a 6-2 record Saturday on Mission Bay in San Diego.

The Cardinal are currently in fifth place. Yale is leading with a 9-1 mark, followed by Boston College.

— Stanford Athletics

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