Stanford University

Season in Review: Card XC – GoStanford.com

Stanford teams swept the NCAA West Regional for the first time since 2004. Photo by David Kiefer.

STANFORD, Calif. – The process of rebuilding the Stanford cross country program has been a painstaking one for Chris Miltenberg, Stanford’s Franklin P. Johnson Director of Track and Field.

His men’s and  women’s teams have had success since he took over in 2012, but this is the season that the program appeared to turn a significant corner toward national supremacy.

The men placed second at the NCAA Championships and earned its third top-three finish in as many years. The women were fifth with three freshman scorers and without its top runner at full strength. Stanford’s twin top-five finishes hadn’t been achieved in a decade. And the Cardinal hadn’t swept the NCAA West Region men’s and women’s titles since 2004.

Stanford is inching back to its heyday when its teams combined for seven NCAA titles from 1996-2007. After years of chasing its substantial legacy, Stanford appears to have it in its grasp. And the best news yet: Stanford has reached a level of sustainability at the elite level.

“When I look at our body of work the past three years, that speaks more than anything as to how far we’ve come as a program,” Miltenberg said.

No elite men’s team has been more consistent than Stanford since 2014. Stanford’s NCAA places (second, third, and second) add up to seven – the lowest in the country in that span. Colorado and Syracuse are next at nine each.

“Without a doubt, we certainly want to win,” Miltenberg said. “But I’m very confident that the framework and the culture are in place. If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to get one eventually.”

Even with the graduation loss of three-time cross-country All-America Sean McGorty for next season, Stanford seems to have reached a level of depth and quality to knows what to expect. That’s in contrast to Miltenberg’s first two seasons when Stanford was expected to contend and instead finished 16th and 19th. That kind of collapse doesn’t seem possible anymore.

“We used to have a range of potential outcomes,” Miltenberg said. “We have narrowed that dramatically. We tell our guys, ‘The first step to being great is being able to be good every single day.'”

Grant Fisher was fifth at NCAA’s and will make the jump to team ace upon McGorty’s departure. Many of those who have done the heavy lifting – Steven Fahy, Jack Keelan, Alex Ostberg, Sam Wharton – keep the nucleus strong. Plus, a more experienced Thomas Ratcliffe, who was eighth in the Pac-12 in his collegiate debut and the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, will aid the Cardinal’s cause in 2017.

The Stanford women are in a similar situation – a position of sustainable success. Freshmen Fiona O’Keeffe and Christina Aragon earned All-America honors and led the Cardinal at NCAA’s, and classmate Ella Donaghu was the team’s No. 5. Stanford achieved its fifth-place finish with its best runner, Elise Cranny, returning from injury and far from her best.

“If you would have told us, even with Elise at training camp, we were going to be fifth, I would have said, ‘That’s great. We’ll take it,'” Miltenberg said. “What we’ve done speaks to the kind of people that we have, their resilience, and their self-belief through adversity. It also speaks to where the future is headed.”

Next year, the Cardinal will have not only Cranny, but also 2015 cross country All-America Vanessa Fraser for one more season, in addition to its current crop of outstanding freshmen, and a strong incoming class headlined by Foot Locker national high school runner-up Nevada Mareno.

“There are some exciting pieces coming together,” Miltenberg said.  

They already have.
 

* * *

Achievements and honors:

TEAM


Both teams advanced to the NCAA’s for the 23rd consecutive year, an ongoing record.
Teams have totaled 26 NCAA top-three finishes.
Teams have combined for 35 NCAA top-five finishes.
10th time both teams have placed among the NCAA top five in the same year.
Only school to place both teams in the top eight at NCAA’s
First twin top-five NCAA team finishes since 2006.
First twin NCAA West Region team titles since 2004.

MEN
NCAA Championships runner-up
NCAA West Region champion
Pac-12 runner-up
Two All-Americans
Fourth consecutive year with an All-American
Fourth consecutive year with a Pac-12 top-three finisher
11th NCAA top-three team finish
15 NCAA West Region titles
23rd consecutive NCAA team appearance
25 NCAA team appearances all-time.
22nd consecutive Pac-12 top-three team finish
29 consecutive victories over Cal at conference championships
58 consecutive victories over Cal in championship competition when both have full teams
Beat Colorado at NCAA’s for first victory over the Buffaloes since the 2010 NCAA meet.

Chris Miltenberg
Dean Miller Award (USTFCCCA West Region Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year)

Steven Fahy
All-West Region
Pac-12 All-Academic second team

Grant Fisher
Pac-12 runner-up
5th at NCAA Championships
Second American at NCAA Championships
All-Pac-12 first team
All-West Region
All-American
Second cross country All-America honor
Pac-12 All-Academic second team

Jack Keelan
All-West Region
Pac-12 All-Academic second team

Sean McGorty
All-Pac-12 first team
All-West Region
All-American
Third cross country All-America honor
Pac-12 All-Academic second team

Thomas Ratcliffe
Pac-12 Men’s Freshman Cross Country Athlete of the Year
Stanford Invitational winner
All-Pac-12 second team

Garrett Sweatt
All-Pac-12 second team
All-West Region
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention

Sam Wharton
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention

WOMEN
NCAA Championships fifth place
NCAA West Region champion
Pac-12 third place
Two All-Americans
Sixth consecutive year with an All-American
15 NCAA West Region titles
18th NCAA top-five team finish
24th consecutive NCAA team appearance, the longest streak in the country
29th NCAA team appearance all-time
24 consecutive top-16 NCAA team finishes
26 consecutive victories over Cal at conference championships
47 consecutive victories over Cal in championship competition when both have full teams

Elizabeth DeBole
Tom Heinonen Award (USTFCCCA West Region Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year)

Christina Aragon
All-Pac-12 second team
All-West Region
All-American

Elise Cranny
Stanford Invitational winner
Pac-12 All-Academic first team

Ella Donaghu
All-West Region

Vanessa Fraser
USF Invitational winner
All-Pac-12 second team
All-West Region
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention

Danielle Katz
All-West Region
Pac-12 All-Academic second team

Abbie McNulty
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention

Fiona O’Keeffe
All-Pac-12 second team
All-West Region
All-American

 

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