With four of the five scoring members gone, the Cardinal may find winning a fourth consecutive NCAA title a little tougher road. Until further notice, though, fourth-ranked Stanford remains atop the hill in the college cross country world.
The Cardinal hosts its first home meet of the season on Saturday as part of the Stanford Invitational, which also includes high school races. The college men get started at 10:50 a.m. and the college women follow at 11:30 a.m.
This is the first time the college field has been limited to just two races. Where more than 1,000 college and open runners competed before, those two fields have been trimmed to 280 runners.
Gits and Niehaus won't have to carry the load this season, as Stanford also returns All-Americans Lindsay Flacks and Katie Harrington, both redshirt seniors. Senior Alicia Follmar, juniors Madeleine O'Meara, Kaylin Pennington and Kelsey Walker and sophomore Anna Schuessler have also competed for the Cardinal.
Comprising the rest of the roster are 11 true and/or redshirt freshmen and a redshirt sophomore. Most of them earned All-American honors and were state champions, and some of them will be making their marks in track and field.
Sophomore Anne St. Geme not only brings talent, but a rich athletic tradition to the table.
St. Geme is the daughter of Ed and Ceci (Hopp) St. Geme. Hopp was an All-American and NCAA champion in track and cross country at Stanford, and was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 2002. Ed St. Geme was a free safety on the Stanford football team. Anne's grandfather, four uncles and cousin also played football at Stanford and one cousin was a member of the Stanford crew team.
Laurynne Chetelat is one of the nation's top recruits. She won the California Division I state meet last fall and competed at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Ireland. Claire Collison, also a Stanford freshman, finished second in the state cross-country finals.
Palo Alto grad Mia Lattanzi is also on the roster but will likely make more of an impact during the track and field season.
Freshmen Stephanie Marcy and Georgia Griffin won state titles last fall, while Emilie Amaro and Kristin Reese earned all-state honors.
Madeline Duhon, Sarah McCurdy, Emma Miller-Bedell and Victoria Pennings are all track and field stars, although Pennings may also make an impact in cross country.
The 11th-ranked Stanford men's team returns four of its seven runners from last year's 19th place finish at the national championships, including three of the scoring runners. Seniors Hakon DeVries, Garrett Heath and Hari Mix top the list of returning veterans, while sophomore Elliott Heath returns after competing in the NCAA final meet.
Seniors Chris Mocko and Jacob Evans and sophomores Brendan Gregg and Justin Marpole-Bird are also returning runners.
Eight talented freshmen, including National Cross Country Runner of the Year Chris Derrick, and a solid junior Justin Reed, round out the men's roster. Reed, who is more of a middle distance runner in track and field, is the nephew of Curt Flood, one of baseball's all-time greats.
Joining Derrick as freshmen on the men's side are high school All-Americans Kevin Havel, Benjamin Johnson, and Jacob Riley, state champion Miles Unterreiner, all-state picks J.T. Sullivan and Riley Sullivan, and track star Dylan Ferris.
Thirty-three men's teams are scheduled to participate in the 8,000-meter race, while 37 women's teams will take part in the 6,000-meter race.
Stanford also will host the NCAA West Regional on Nov. 15, also on the Stanford Golf Course.