STANFORD, Calif. – Redshirt freshman Morgan Anderson PR’d in the 1,500 and junior Aly Nielson did the same in the 5,000, also moving into ninth on Oregon State’s all-time list in the event, as the duo led a quintet of Beaver competitors at the Stanford Invitational in the Bay Area on Friday.
Nielson started the action for OSU in the first race of the day at 10:40 a.m., section five of the women’s 5,000m. In her fourth career try at the distance, the junior put forth her fastest effort by more than 50 seconds, finishing seventh in the 17-woman section with a time of 16:50.86.
“Aly went out a little faster than I would have liked, but given the way the race developed she probably ran as close to the smartest race she could have,” Oregon State assistant coach Laura Harmon said. “You can’t go out and not compete with the people around you. I’m proud of how smart she ran given that the heat was won in 16:13 and the whole pack pretty much went out there.”
As a freshman at the Stanford Invite on April 6, 2012, Nielson notched her previous 5,000m PR of 17:41.75. Her time on Friday moved her into ninth on Oregon State’s all-time list, just behind Ashley Younce’s 16:50.52 from the same meet on The Farm on March 31, 2006.
“There is no such thing as a perfect race,” Harmon added. “Athletes have to learn to adapt to things like that. But this is a really good starting place and puts us in good position for her to improve. There were things I saw that we can definitely work on.”
In her first 1,500 in uniform for Oregon State, Anderson PR’d with a time of 4:34.22, good for sixth in her 18-member section. The Scotts Mills, Ore. product shaved more than two seconds off her previous best from the Oregon Twilight last May 3 (4:36.33).
“Morgan was the opposite of Aly,” Harmon said. “She didn’t really get out and wasn’t aggressive enough until the last bit. She realizes how much more she’s capable of, which is very encouraging. She looked really, really strong throughout the whole thing and will have a lot more confidence going into next 1,500 that she races.”
In the evening, Kinsey Gomez ran her 5,000m in 16:35.07, to finish 13th out of 24 competitors. It was the second-fastest 5K of her career and 11 seconds off her 16:24.17 from the Mt. SAC Relays on April 19, 2013, a mark which secured her a spot in the NCAA West Regional.
Friday’s effort was a solid first try at distance this season for the junior Gomez, who will return to Walnut, Calif. in a couple of weeks and attempt to qualify for regionals in the 10K. A year ago, her 16:38.79 5,000m at the Stanford Invite catapulted Gomez to run that aforementioned 16:24.17 a few weeks later, a time which is second on Oregon State’s all-time list in the 5K.
“We are still sticking with the same plan,” Harmon said of the 10K plans for Gomez at Mt. SAC. “Tonight was a huge learning experience for Kinsey in terms of racing and understanding her body and how she’s feeling in a race. One of things I said to her was that you don’t need to start a race where you want to finish it. She got out a little quicker than she should have and paid for it. Had she gone out more in the middle of pack it would have been a different race and she knows that. The fact that a not-so-great race for her is 16:35 is pretty amazing.”
Redshirt sophomore Kelsi Schaer and redshirt senior Taylor Nowlin rounded out the five OSU student-athletes at the Stanford Invite. Schaer came in eighth in her section of the 1,500, running 4:37.37, her best-ever season-opening time at that distance. In her first 1,500 last year, Schaer ran 4:42.59 at the Willamette Opener in Salem, Ore.
Nowlin, Oregon State’s school-record holder in the steeplechase, finished with a time of 10:47.90. In 2013, she began her slate of 3,000m steeples at the Stanford Invite by running 10:50.70. Nowlin would cut that time down and capped the season with that school record 10:36.75 at the Pac-12 Championships in Los Angeles.
Next Friday, OSU will be a little closer to home and send competitors to the John Knight Twilight at McArthur Field on the campus of Western Oregon University.