Tuesday, September 3, 2013

NCAA XC Top 31 Countdown: Women's #3- Stanford

Editor's note: For the next month, The Wood Report will be counting down projected team finishes in this year's NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, IN.

#3 Stanford
Head Coach: Chris Miltenberg (2nd Season)
2012 National Finish- 3rd

Key Returners from 2012
  • Aisling Cuffe (Jr., 9:07 Open 3k, 16:15 5k, 21st NCAA XC '12)
  • Jessica Tonn (Sr., 9:10 Open 3k, 15:54 5k, 34:41 10k, 43rd NCAA XC '12)
  • Rebecca Mehra (So., 4:47 1600m (HS), 3 X NXN Qualifier- 13th '09, no. 7 at West Reg)
  • Julia Foster (Jr., No. 6 at NCAAs '12- 161st, 9:33 Open 3k)
  • Megan Lacy (So., 4:52 1600m (HS), 10:22 3200m (HS), no. 7 at NCAAs '12)
  • Cami Chapus (So., FL Finalist '11- 22nd, Dream Mile Champ- '11-12, No. 9 at Pac-12s)
  • Justine Fredronic (Sr., No. 6 at West Reg'l, No. 5 at NCAA XC '12- 150th)
Impact Recruits/Transfers
  • Sophie Chase (Fr., 4:48 1600m, 10:19 2 Mile, 3 X FL Finalist- 6th '12, 11th '11, 
  • Emma Fisher (Fr., 4:56 1600m, 10:26 3200m, 
  • Vanessa Webster (Fr., 4:58 1600m, 10:31 3200m, 16:59 5k NBON '12)

Season Preview

After being blessed with a team stocked full of talent in his first year as head coach, Chris Miltenberg has a chance to work with some of his own recruits and the ones left to him in 2013 in order to improve upon their 3rd place finish from 2012. Although the Cardinal were not incredibly deep in 2012, having four athletes in the top 45 was good enough to put them on the podium (even if Fedronic, their #5 was 150th). 

This upcoming 2013 Stanford team is one of the most interesting teams in the country and here is why. Stanford must find a way to replace All-Americans Kathy Kroeger and Cayla Hatton who left for graduation and personal reasons, respectively. With these girls gone, Stanford needs to find some young guns to step up and fill the shoes of these two big-time talented runners, to help them see the podium again in 2013. 

The good news for Coach Miltenberg is that All-American Aisling Cuffe is back and is now a leader on this Cardinal squad. Cuffe has been very solid and consistent as a college athlete and has seen improvement and progression during her post-high school days, even after being so good in high school. Cuffe had a remotely disappointing outdoor track season, finishing 13th at NCAA Outdoors in the 5k, and therefore will be doubly motivated to improve upon her 21st finish at NCAAs. 

Jessica Tonn is in a similar boat as Cuffe as she is coming off of a poor finish to her outdoor season in the 5k where she finished 17th outdoors. That is not to take away from her excellent season prior to NCAAs. Tonn was big time for the Cardinal at Pac-12s where she placed 5th in the 5k and 2nd in the 10k outdoors. After placing 43rd at NCAA XC in 2012, being so close to All-American, Tonn is almost a guarantee to find herself somewhere in the top-40 in 2013. 

This Stanford team could actually be deeper than the team they had in 2012 because of their depth having a little more experience and with recruits coming in that are studs in cross country. The rest of the top seven is going to be made up of Cami Chapus (high school mile star), Justine Fedronic (great middle-distance runner who solidified her spot in the stanford top seven last year, could be greatly improved in xc this season), Rebecca Mehra (good high school cross country runner--should see a big improvement in her this season, looking at a no. 4 or 5 spot), Tate Murray (who just ran great at the USF meet this weekend), Megan Lacy (another high school stud--made NCAA XC team in 2012, but struggled in Louisville) and Julia Foster (another NCAA XC runner, placed sixth on the team, coming off of a mediocre track season). 

That was a lot. Anyway, Stanford is definitely deep and has a lot of girls that could step into the no. 3-7 spots. What makes the Cardinal even more interesting are the quality recruits that are coming again this season. Miltenberg proved last season that he can coach young talent (Weissenbach, Hatton, etc) and therefore should help some of the incoming athletes find their way on the travel team. 

Sophie Chase is the biggest sign for the Cardinal and she is the type of runner that can immediately impact a big-time college program like Stanford. Chase is one of the more proven cross country runners coming from the high school level and is also just as good on the track. Improving every year at Foot Locker Finals in high school is a good sign of where her ceiling is at and she should be able to progress at a similar, if not faster rate, with Miltenberg. 

Emma Fisher and Vanessa Webster are also quality recruits and could see their way onto the travel team. 

Stanford is full of some very talented girls and is going to be in the mix at every big meet all season long. If they can stay healthy and find a couple of All-Americans in their depth, they will be looking at another podium finish at NCAAs in Terre Haute in 2013. 

1 comment:

  1. I think its Vanessa Fraser, not Vanessa Webster. She ran a 456 mile last year, a bit faster than her 1600m time.