The 2015 Stanford Track and Field Invitational will once again take place this Friday/Saturday at Cobb Track and Angell Field (photo above courtesy of gostanford.com). The premier Northern California Track and Field Invitational will pit many of the top athletes (photos below all courtesy of imageofsport.com) from this part of the state against some of the best athletes from the south as well out of state. Here is a rundown of all the events in the order they will take place this weekend along with the top contenders and pre-meet favorites.
The first high school event that will take place on the track will be the girls' 3000m. Several of the top runners in this event (Fiona O'Keeffe Davis-SJS/Brighie Leach Campolindo-NCS) will be focusing their energy on the Distance Medley Relay but this field of runners will still be formidable. The fastest personal record in the field belongs to Emily Beneduce, Oak Park-SS (10:25.93) which she accomplished last season as she finished 7th at the California State Track and Field meet. Her main competitors and runners sporting the fastest personal records include Megan McCandless, Granada-NCS (10:32.82), freshman Rylee Bowen, Sonoma Academy-NCS (10:37.13 Indoor 2-Mile which converts to 10:33.4 for 3200), Brooke Starn, Monte Vista-NCS (10:36.51), Morgin Coonfield, McKinleyville-NCS (10:37.06) and Kyra Hunsberger, Reno (10:40.15). Also keep an eye on a couple of top runners from the Central Coast Section like Kelly Bishop, Monta Vista-CCS (11:08.02) who has recorded impressive personal records already this season in 800/1600 (2:15.58/5:00.22), Gillian Meeks, Gunn (4:56.98/10:46.17) and another freshman, Caroline Gee, Cupertino (5:03.47/10:50.45).
This race will be an interesting one with lots of runners sporting very similar looking personal records. The interesting question, as always, will be who gets to roll in the fast heat? Once we divide the field in half, the next question is who will be pushing the pace up front? That question is a lot easier to answer as the two Madera South runners (Eduardo Herrera and Miguel Villar) will certainly press from the gun. They also come in with the fastest two times in the 2015 season with Herrera at 9:11.42 and Villar at 9:18.64. A win won't be easy for either of those two runners with the most experienced and capable racers, Chris Foster, Los Gatos-CCS (9:16.12), Paul Zeiss, Granite Bay-SJS (9:11.62) and Kai Benedict, McQueen-Reno (9:08.96) also in the field. With an honest pace from the gun, the winner will no doubt have one of the fastest 3k times in the nation. Two other runners that have run well in recent meets are Cooper Teare of St. Joseph, Notre Dame-NCS and Rohan Choudhury of Monta Vista-CCS (9:23.12 and 9:23.64 respectively).
Girls 400m. Hurdles
Just like the 3000m. races, the 400m. hurdle is a unique event for most athletes attending this meet. Most of the top long hurdlers from last year are back with Maya Miklos, Gunn-CCS the top returner with her 2nd place finish last year at 61.63. Jurnee Woodward of Vacaville, SJS was the 3rd place finisher running all by herself in the slowest heat. Juliana Mount, Notre Dame San Jose-CCS (63.32) and Hannah Davis, Vacaville-SJS (63.56) will also be in the hunt if either the first two mentioned hurdlers falter ahead of them. The wildcard in the field will be Mecca McGlaston, Dublin-NCS who won the CA state meet in the 100m. hurdles last year with a fine time of 13.54. If motivated to race this distance, McGlaston could double her hurdle win total at this meet and set herself up for another fine season.
Boys 400m. Hurdles
For so many hurdlers, the 300m. version is just the right distance that allows high school athletes to race confidently without fear of hitting the proverbial wall down the stretch. The full lap encounter over 10 hurdles is not quite as forgiving and this race may turn into a survival event. The top returner from last year's race is Alex Netherda of Maria Carillo-NCS who finished 5th overall with a time of 56.60. Also finishing in the top 10 last year and winning heat #2 was Jack Olender of Heritage-NCS (57.44). The hottest hurdler in CCS this season is Aidan Kirwan, Branham who has recorded PRs in the 110m. Hurdles (14.28) and 300m. Hurdles (38.61). Despite his inexperience in this race, he may be the favorite to outclass this field.
Distance Medley Relays (Girls)
With so many variables that are in place for this event, I am a little leery of selecting favorites. A couple of the variables include what runners will be focusing on the 3k and leaving their teams at less than full strength and what athletes will attempt to double back from the 3k. With all their athletes focusing on this event, Campolindo-NCS may be the favorite and will have the fastest time from this season which they set at the San Rafael Twilight Relays (12:17.14). They will be challenged by a talented Davis-SJS group that will be anchored by the best distance runner in Northern California, Fiona O'Keeffe. Palos Verdes-SS, one of the top Division III teams at the state meet will be driving/flying north looking for a victory here. Other teams that may challenge the top 3 teams are Monte Vista-NCS (12:23.82), Monta Vista-CCS (12:24.04), Los Gatos-CCS (12:25.66) and Archbishop Mitty-CCS (12:26.72). All are within striking distance of sub 12:20 times.
Distance Medley Relays (Boys)
This race could turn out to be quite exciting as the lone distance relay taking place this weekend with the elimination of the 4x800m. It's hard to pick a favorite but there are several teams that may be a spot above the rest of the field. Bellarmine-CCS finished in 2nd place last year, has run 10:35.92 this season and has the depth to compete in individual and relay events. Germantown Friends-Pennsylvania has run a tick faster at 10:33.10 (same time recorded by Lynbrook-CCS) and teams don't typically fly across the United States without having a victory in mind. Palos Verdes-SS will field a team with two sub 4:20 milers (Robert Franklin-4:14.32 and Jacob Cohen-4:18.94) and will contend as well. Other contending teams include Madera South-CS, McQueen-Reno and James Logan-NCS. Madera South has become one of the distance powers in CA and could easily field a contender here. McQueen could contend but may have their best distance runner, Kai Benedict, double back from 3k. In one of the more impressive efforts last weekend, James Logan-NCS finished first and second in the 4x800 at the Bay Area Relays with two teams under 8:00 (7:53.68 and 7:59.87).
Long Jump (Boys and Girls)
The boys long jump will be the first field event here and it is a wide open affair. At this point, it appears that the first jumper that clears 23 feet will be the winner. The top long jumper in this area is Mt. Pleasant's Kurt Felicitas who has jumped 23'2" but he will focus on other events at this meet. The competing jumper with the best personal best is Matthew Runels of James Logan-NCS (23'6.5"). The competing jumper with the best season jump is Dante Piantanida of Calaveras-SJS, ironically home of the famous jumping frog made famous by Mark Twain. The rest of the field includes 8 jumpers with personal bests over 22 feet and with the nature of the long jump, they will all be contenders for the win.
What 23 feet is to the boys competition, 19 feet will be the mark here for the girls. A number of jumpers have flirted with 19 feet this year and with the added crowd at this meet, chances are the winner will sail past that mark for the victory. The leading jumper heading into this meet will be Caice Lanovaz, Los Gatos-CCS (18'11.5"). Right behind her is one of the rising stars in CA, freshman, Kirsten Carter, Santa Rosa-NCS (18'11"). Katherine Jackson, Angelo Rodriguez-SJS (18'9.25") and Kennedy Jones, Castro Valley-NCS (18'8.5") are both within striking distance and it would not be a surprise if either won this competition. Another athlete to watch is Jurnee Woodward, Vacaville-SJS, one of the top hurdlers in CA who has the talent to compete with the best in this event.
Pole Vault (Boys)
The final field competition on Friday will be the boys pole vault, one of the premier events for California. The leading vaulters here will be Austin Laut, Oak Ridge-SJS and Zachary Nichols, Branham-CCS, both competitors scaling 15'7" this season. The other vaulters who have also cleared 15 feet (exactly) this season are Nate Harper, Davis-SJS and Travis Kartz, Granite Bay-SJS. Attempting to break up the CA contingent here will be Nathan Heck of Churchill County-Reno who also comes in with a 15'0" season best.
Mile (Girls & Boys)
The first individual race on the track will be the girls mile. The top returner from last year's race is Fiona O'Keeffe, Davis-SJS who finished in 3rd place with a personal record 4:49.04. She is one of the premier distance runners in California and will not be afraid to press the pace early. The 5th place finisher from last year's race was Christina Aragon, Billings Senior-Montana who ran a mile PR, 4:53.63. Her most impressive performance of the season came later in the season at the Golden West Invitational when she ran away from the field in the last lap with a superb 4:44.33. Her family is no stranger to running success with both of her older sisters (Alexa and Danielle) running at Notre Dame, her mom, Kathleen, who participated in 3 Olympic Trials and her dad, Chuck, who missed making the 1984 Olympic team in the 1500 by 5 hundredths of a second. He was also the first New Mexico runner to run a sub 4 minute mile indoors.
Unlike the girls mile which may be a two girl race, the boys field is quite competitive with multiple runners in contention for the win. One other difference with the boys is that the early pace is typically conservative with nobody willing to rabbit the field through an honest opening quarter. The leading contenders include Eduardo Herrera, Madera South-CS (4:14.80), Paul Zeiss, Granite Bay-SJS (4:16.58), Kai Benedict, McQueen-Reno (4:16.77), Nick Rauch, Casa Grande-NCS (4:16.85), Allen Siegler, University City-SDS (4:18.37) and Steven Sum, Saratoga-CCS (4:18.96). Although Sum has the slowest personal record out of all the listed contenders, watch our for him as his sole focus will be on the mile during this meet and as he proved at the Dublin Distance Fiesta, he can close well. The rest of the field will include a lot more runners capable of dipping under 4:20 with many of them hoping to be part of the faster 1st heat.
4 x 100m. Relay (Girls and Boys)
The top 9 teams from the morning trials will qualify for the final here. The favorite appears to be Franklin-SJS with their 47.82 season best time that ranks as the 6th fastest time in California. They have a second lead over the next fastest team so this looks like their race to lose. The second fastest team is St. Francis, Mt. View-CCS which ran their season best time of 48.92 at their own invitational. The next trio of teams right in the mix with very similar times are Bishop O'Dowd-NCS (49.01), Sheldon-SJS (49.03) and St. Francis, Sacramento-SJS (49.12).
The fastest competing team in the short relay is Woodcreek-SJS (42.53). Incidentally, Woodcreek won the CA state championship in this event last season which is a rare occurrence for a Northern California relay team. Their closest competition here will be fellow SJS team, Sheldon, with a 42.65 season best. Look out also for St. Mary's Berkeley-NCS (42.89) and Castro Valley-NCS (42.90), the two other teams in this field that have dipped under the 43 second mark.
800m. (Girls and Boys)
One significant change in the meet lineup was the elimination of the 4 x 800m. relays and the addition of the individual 800s. The girls competition will be an interesting one with inclusion of several of the top half milers in the state. Julianna Mount, Notre Dame SJ-CCS made her debut in the 800 at the K-Bell Invitational last season and recorded a very solid 2:17.32. She continued hurdling (her main events) through the season but did turn her focus to the 800 which resulted in a 6th place overall finish at the CA state meet in 2:10.07. Chloe Jenkins, St. Mary's Berkeley-NCS was equally as impressive winning the NCS MOC 800 and recorded a lifetime best time of 2:11.31 behind Mount in 8th place. Both athletes will be aiming for a fast time and victory here but the pre-meet heavy favorite will be Sarah Walker, Germantown Friends-Pennsylvania who has already recorded a season best indoors of 2:08.97. Last season, she ran 2:06.62 in late May which was one of the fastest times in the nation.
The boys race will feature one of the top runners in Nevada, Connor Ross, McQueen. He won the Nevada state championship last year in a lifetime best 1:52.41 and also ran in the 400 recording an equally impressive 48.07. This past indoor season, Connor invaded the CA Indoor meet and won both the 600m. and 800m. races. He will be a favored to win here but is definitely not a lock. Blake Croft, Davis-SJS recorded his PB at the SJS Masters meet (1:52.45) chasing Arturo Sotomayor, Roseville-SJS in 2nd place. Nicholas Rauch, Casa Grande-NCS ran a lifetime best 1:54.35 at the NCS MOC meet last year doubling back from the 1600m. He may be attempting the same double at this meet but could be added to the favorite list running fresh. Watch out also for Ross Corey, Priory-CCS who recorded an impressive negative split 1:56.32 at the Adidas Distance Meet of Champions.
400 Meters (Girls and Boys)
Schantel Williams, St. Mary's Stockton-SJS is the fastest 400m. runner in California at 55.41. Malia Bryant, Vanden-SJS is right behind her as the 2nd fastest runner in CA at 55.62. In a preview of the SJS Masters meet both athletes will go head to head here and attempt to stay in front of one of the top CCS one lappers, D'Airrien Jackson, Wilcox (56.00). Sofia Evanoff, Winters-NS finished in 4th place last year in the fastest heat and will aim for a higher finish here. Chloe Jenkins, St. Mary's Berkeley-NCS is entered as well and has a 55.93 personal best but might change her mind about competing in this event after finishing the 800m.
Just as in the girls race, the best 400m. sprinters in this field come from the Sac-Joaquin Section. The fastest time recorded this season belongs to Aspyn Walton, Woodcreek at 48.66. His main competitor is a very familiar one as Cameron Stone, Sheldon is right behind at 48.92. Stone had the faster time last season at 46.99 and finished one place ahead of Walton at the CA state meet in 7th place. Another SJS athlete, Javonte Norman, St. Mary's Stockton (49.22) will battle for 3rd place with Shraee Harrison, San Benito-CCS (49.27). Connor Ross, McQueen-Reno (48.07) will be doubling back from the 800m. but should have plenty of time to rest and could break up the CA contingent with a victory here.
Girls 100m. Hurdles/Boys 110m. Hurdles
The Stanford Invitational turned out to be the coming out party of Mecca McGlaston, Dublin-NCS. She finished in 2nd place in the trials but came back to defeat the Vacaville hurdling crew in the final with a then PR, 14.03. She finished in 3rd place at the Arcadia Invitational and then rolled undefeated the rest of the season, including the CA state championship in a still standing 13.54 best. McGlaston will be making her season debut in the short hurdles here and her main challenger appears to be Jurnee Woodward, Vacaville-SJS who currently has the 3rd fastest time in CA at 14.23. Unofficially, it's the 4th fastest time as current teammate Reonna Collier ran 13.80 as an open athlete at the UC Davis Open while she sits out her following her transfer from Piedmont Hills-CCS.
The favorite on the boys side will be Aidan Kirwan-Branham-CCS who is currently the 2nd fastest high hurdler in California at 14.28. He has also recorded a lifetime best time in the 300m. hurdles at 38.61. Last season, Kirwan qualified for the CA state meet in the longer hurdle race but was still finding his way in the highs. It appears that he has taken that step this season and will be looking to make a statement and continue his undefeated season streak here. His main competitor will be Khalil Dorsey, Colony-SS, who has also recorded his lifetime best this season at 14.52. Two other notable competitors here are the two best high jumpers at this meet, Darius Carbin, Mt. Pleasant-CCS and Isaiah Holmes, Oakmont-SJS. Holmes is the more accomplished high hurdler at 14.97 but Carbin is really hitting his stride in other events including a 22 foot long jump in a recent competition.
100 Meters (Girls and Boys)
The 100 meters will be very interesting for both sexes. With many athletes separated by 100ths of a second, getting to the final may be more formidable than the final itself. The favorite for the girls will be Rae'vyn Lawler, Pleasant Grove-SJS who currently has the 2nd fastest time in CA at 11.84. She is currently the only athlete in the field with a sub 12 second time. The next closest competitors are Kaylah Robinson, El Cerrito-NCS at 12.00 and Jelia Brice-Montgomery, Bear Creek-SJS (12.10). The rest of the field is much too close to call but one thing that is certain, there will be a surprise in the final that may challenge the three athletes listed above.
The slight favorite to win the boys 100m. will be John McDowell, Lincoln, Stockton-SJS who has run 10.66 this season. That mark currently has him as the 5th fastest in California. Provided they can all make the final, his challengers will be Cameron Edwards, Castro Valley-NCS (10.85) and Nate Jones, Tracy-SJS (10.87). Another sprinter may be co-favorite with McDowell is Jamaun Charles, Amador Valley-NCS. He won the Stanford Invite last year with a 10.85 personal best at the time and qualified to the CA state meet by winning the NCS MOC. Charles ran his lifetime best time of 10.66 in the trials to qualify for the final where he finished in 7th place.
4 x 400m. Relays (Girls and Boys)
The toughest event to predict may be the long sprint relay here. A lot of teams entered in this meet may not have run their four fastest athletes together in a race to date or may have and were not pushed. The favorite at this point is St. Mary's Berkeley-NCS which won the Stanford Invite last year comfortably at 3:53.26. There season best time is very close to that time and may have the best anchor in the field, Chloe Jenkins. Their competition should come from Deer Valley-NCS (3:57.32), Franklin-SJS (4:00.49), Armijo-SJS (4:01.96) and Acalanes-NCS (4:03.90). 3 teams dipped under the 4 minute mark last year and we should surpass that number this year.
The boys competition will be an interesting one with lots of teams hovering around the same entry time. Although the teams are tightly bunched, someone will definitely storm away from the pack like Vacaville-SJS did last year winning the fastest heat in 3:20.35. The contending teams in order of their best time this season are Sheldon-SJS (3:23.73), Davis-SJS (3:25.38), Pittsburg-NCS (3:25.79), Deer Valley-NCS (3:25.83) and Laguna Creek-SJS (3:26.57). Looking at the above teams, Sheldon may indeed be the team to beat especially if they are in or near the lead and with their superb anchor, Cameron Stone.
SATURDAY FIELD EVENTS
A quick rundown of the leading contenders out on the field. In the boys discus starting at 9am, the favorite will be Darrin Paulo of Grant-SJS who has the 10th leading throw in CA at 172'10". His main competitors are all within striking distance and the discus is definitely one event where one big throw can win the competition. With that in mind, watch out for Marshall Godsil, Bellarmine-CCS (164'11"), Wyatt Doughty, Bella Vista-SJS (161'8"), Jonah Williams, Folsom-SJS (156'7") and Michael Titherington, Jesuit-SJS (156'3").
In the girls shot put, the top two throwers in California will both be competing here. Junior Elena Bruckner, Valley Christian SJ-CCS has the top throw in CA at 49'10". The next best thrower is also from Northern California with Brandi French of Vacaville-SJS at 46'9". Bruckner's teammate Ronna Stone has the 6th best throw in CA with her 42'11.75". That gives Valley Christian SJ quite a one/two punch in the throws and if they can score a few points on the track may be among the team leaders at the CCS meet. Also appearing in the CA top 10 list and competing here will be Janessa Moses, Sheldon-SJS (42'6") and Megan Dulaney, Angelo Rodriguez-SJS (42'5").
The girls pole vault competitors should be very familiar with each other. As the most technical event in Track and Field, it is very common for vaulters that live in the same area to have the same coach. It just so happens that the top two competitors in this competition attend the same school (Pacific Collegiate) and they are Arika Malaspina (13'0.25") and Nicole Trenchard (12'5.50"). Two other vaulters that have also cleared 12 feet are Jenny Wilson of Buchanan-CS (12'2") and Sydney Jaques of Presentation-CCS (12'0").
The boys triple jump competition will be missing two of the top 10 triple jumpers in California. Mt. Pleasant senior, Kurt Felicitas (46'1") and Paul Touma, Menlo-CCS, both will not participate in this event. Felicitas will be focusing on the 100m. as well as a potential relay leg. Touma will not compete due to an injury. That leaves Ron Smith, St. Mary's Berkeley-NCS as the favorite with his 47'1" best mark from this season. Interestingly, his coach, Jeff Rogers was one of the premier high school and college jumpers. At Overfelt, Rogers jumped 7'3" which is still the CCS record and was an All-American at Cal where he still holds the school high jump record. Also in contention for the meet victory will be Evan Austrie, Vallejo-SJS (46'5") and Brian Yeager, Los Altos-CCS (45'6").
The favorite to win the girls triple jump competition will be the defending NCS MOC champion, Kennedy Jones, Castro Valley. She has jumped 39'0" this season which is just off her lifetime best. Pushing Jones to perhaps her first 40 foot jump will be a trio of jumpers who have all sailed past 37 feet this season: Lillianna Hebert, California-NCS (37'5.5"), Jowhart Hill, Emery School-NCS (37'5.25") and Kalesi Budei, Branham-CCS (37'0").
The girls high jump competition might be an interesting competition that could be decided by who can scale the winning height with the least attempts. The top jumper in CCS, Julie Zweng, Scotts Valley, also comes into this competition with the best season mark (5'6"). That mark may win the competition but more than likely, it will take an attempt or two at 5'8" to lock up this competition. Also within striking distance are Erica Hegley, Bear River-SJS (5'5"), Briahn Brown, St. Mary's Berkeley-NCS (5'4"), Natalie Caraway, Granite Bay-SJS (5'4"), Lilliana Hebert, California-NCS (5'4"), and Ray'ven Sanders, Oakland Tech-OAK (5'4").
The girls discus competition should be terrific with 5 of the top 10 discus throwers in CA competing at this meet. The top thrower is Elena Bruckner, Valley Christian SJ-CCS (152'8") who is currently ranked 2nd in CA. She will have stiff competition from the 2nd place finisher at last year's CA state track and field meet, Hannah Chappell, Oakdale-SJS (147'8"). The other discus throwers ranked in the top 10 in CA are Ronna Stone, Valley Christian SJ-CCS (144'4"), Emelda Malm-Annan, Monterey Trail-SJS (134'6") and Megan Dulaney, Angelo Rodriguez-SJS (133'9").
In the long history of CA track and field, there have been nearly 100 high jumpers that have cleared the bar at 7 feet or above. This season, the top high jumper in CA is Michael Burke, Lemoore-CS who has joined the 7 foot club with a 7'0" jump at the Golden West Invite. Darius Carbin, Mt. Pleasant-CCS jumped 6'11" at the K-Bell Invite on March 14th which at the time was the leading jump in the nation. The following weekend, Isaiah Holmes, Oakmont-SJS, cleared the same height at the Depth Charge Invite in Folsom. Both Carbin and Holmes will compete here and there is a good chance that the enthusiastic crowd may watch two more CA jumpers clear 7 feet.
The final high school field event of the day will be the boys shot put. The meet record of 62'5" was set in 1987 by Kami Kashmiri of Reno. There are two athletes that might give that record a scare (or shot if you will). Michael Titherington of Jesuit-SJS has a season best 61'1.75" while Darrin Paulo of Grant Union-SJS has a best of 60'8.5". Titherington handed Paulo his only defeat of the season in either weight events so this healthy grudge match will continue here. Also in the mix will be Jonah Williams, Folsom-SJS (58'10"), Griffin DeFlores, Heritage-NCS (57'7.25") and Miguel Martinez, Jesuit-SJS (56'10").
And that's my best attempt to identify the top competitors this coming weekend. Feel free to include any deserving athletes/teams that I may have missed in the comment section below. You can also chat at us at @CAMilesplit on Twitter.