Sports

Stanford's Fisher highlights 5,000 at Cardinal Classic

 

Racing with the NCAA Championships in mind, Stanford senior Grant Fisher ramped up the pace over the final mile to win the main event, the men's 5,000 meters, at the Cardinal Classic at Cobb Track and Angell Field on Friday night.

Fisher, the 2017 NCAA outdoor champion, was among four Cardinal to run lifetime bests in the race, all at 13:47 or faster. Fisher's 13:29.52 was the second-fastest outdoor 5,000 in the world this year, by only 0.05. And the top eight collegiate times in the country this year all came from that race.


Grant Fisher/David Kiefer
"Just tried to ramp it up at the end. It's something I need to be ready for in a few weeks at NCAA's, so I wanted to practice that skill set," Fisher said, "really winding that last mile off of a pretty fast pace."

Stanford's Thomas Ratcliffe, a junior academically, was a stunning third in his first collegiate 5,000, running 13:32.81, the ninth-fastest outdoor time in the world. Steven Fahyand Alek Parsons each dropped 10 seconds off their bests, with Fahy fifth in 13:34.80 and Parsons ninth in 13:47.59.

With freshman Clayton Mendez lopping off 40 seconds from his lifetime best to win Section 2 in 13:57.99, Stanford now has seven who have broken 14 minutes in the 5,000.

In trying to simulate an NCAA championship race, which typically begins with a tactical pace before it quickens and builds to a crescendo, Fisher remained steady until four laps remained. Trailing Iowa State's Edwin Kurgat, Fisher began to crank it up, thinking more about pace than place.

The rabbits had taken the pack through in a steady stream of 66-second laps, but with four laps to go, Fisher took the lead and only Kurgat dared keep pace. Fisher accelerated to a 63, and then a 62 as the gap grew. With a pair of 60-second laps to complete the race, Fisher covered the final 1,600 in a 4:05.8.

"That's what you have to do at NCAA's," Fisher said. "You have to run that or faster in the last mile. I wanted to practice that."

Down the stretch, Ratcliffe overtook Kurgat and nearly caught Oregon's Cooper Teare for second.

Ratcliffe acknowledged this was a big step. This season is his first outdoors as a collegian.

"I just got so much energy from having these guys with me up front and seeing Grant battling at the top," Ratcliffe said. "Said to Steven, 'Let's go roll this last 500.' Just to trying to hunt everybody in front of me that I could."

Ratcliffe, who ran a strong 1,500 earlier this season, may have found his perfect distance.

"I'm not taking any of it for granted," he said. "I'm feeling good. Counting my blessings right now that I'm back."

Said Fahy, the reigning Pac-12 steeplechase champ, "We knew we were ready to put up these kind of numbers."

Parsons said, "We feel we have all the pieces together now. It's the first time we got to really show the depth that we have."

In the women's invitational race, Stanford sophomore Jessica Lawson sliced 38 seconds off her best time, to place third in the 5,000.

Two meet records were broken in the fourth annual competition. Fisher broke his own year-old mark of 13:36.77. The other came from javelin thrower Jenna Gray. The volleyball and track first-team All-America threw 183-4 (55.87m), exceeding the 177-11 (54.25) that teammate Mackenzie Little threw in setting the meet record last year.

Ratcliffe, who ran a strong 1,500 earlier this season, may have found his perfect distance.

"I'm not taking any of it for granted," he said. "I'm feeling good. Counting my blessings right now that I'm back."

Said Fahy, the reigning Pac-12 steeplechase champ, "We knew we were ready to put up these kind of numbers."

Parsons said, "We feel we have all the pieces together now. It's the first time we got to really show the depth that we have."

In the women's invitational race, Stanford sophomore Jessica Lawson sliced 38 seconds off her best time, to place third in the 5,000.

Two meet records were broken in the fourth annual competition. Fisher broke his own year-old mark of 13:36.77. The other came from javelin thrower Jenna Gray. The volleyball and track first-team All-America threw 183-4 (55.87m), exceeding the 177-11 (54.25) that teammate Mackenzie Little threw in setting the meet record last year.

— David Kiefer

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