Track & Field

Jones Third at NCAA's

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EUGENE, Ore. – Only a sophomore, Stanford's Alyssa Jones earned her fourth top-four placing of her long-jump career on Thursday, taking third at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field.

Including indoors and outdoors, Jones has placed, in order: fourth, second, third, and third in NCAA championship competition.

Jones was among five Cardinal women competing on Day Two of the NCAA Championships. Juliette Whittaker and Roisin Willis advanced to the 800-meter finals through through their semifinal heat, and the 4x400 relay team of Maya Valmon, Willis, Whittaker, and Samantha Thomas, placed 16th overall to earn second-team All-America honors. 

In the past two NCAA Outdoor Championships, Jones has held the lead at some point in a close competition. Last year, Jones took the lead in the fourth round, only for Ackelia Smith of Texas to overtake her in the sixth and final round to win.

On Thursday, Jones took the lead on her second jump, with a distance of 21-9 ½ (6.64m). Through two rounds, Smith and 2023 NCAA indoor champ Sydney Willits were on the ropes, having fouled each of their first two attempts. Another foul or poor jump would knock them out of the competition. 

Instead, Smith unleashed a jump of 22-3 ½ (6.79) in the third round to take the lead. And though Willits finally got a fair jump, the jump of 20-3 (6.17) left her in 15th place and out of the top-nine finals. 

Jones was unable to improve upon her second jump and Smith's jump stood, giving the Texas junior a repeat title. Jones is on a path to make history, with five All-America honors already, including one in the 4x100 last year. 

Whittaker and Willis raced against each other in the 800 for the first time in the 2024 outdoor season, in the third semi. With only two from each semi advancing automatically, there was a chance that one teammate could know the other out. It nearly happened as Whittaker won the heat, but Oklahoma State's Gabija Galvydyte passed Willis in the meters to secure the auto qualifier. 

In their only previous 2024 matchup, Willis won Heat 2 at the NCAA Indoor Championships and Willis was fourth and knocked out. 

This time, Willis took third in a time that was the fastest among the three time qualifiers. Whittaker finished in 2:00.09, the second-fastest overall time to LSU's Michaela Rose (1:59.90 from Heat 1), and Willis ran 2:00.21.

Both Whittaker and Willis ran personal collegiate outdoor bests. Whittaker's time was only 0.01 off Olivia Baker's school outdoor record from 2018 and Willis ran the third-fastest outdoor time in school history. Both times were under Stanford's record for an NCAA Championships, the 2:00.63 by Claudia Saunders in 2015.

Willis took the lead off the stagger start and led at the bell with a 58.80 opening-lap split, with Whittaker second in 59.02. Willis briefly lost the lead on the final turn, but retook it down the stretch with Whittaker on her shoulder, only for Whittaker make the pass in the homestretch.

Both compete in the final on Saturday at 3:44 p.m. on ESPN.

In the 4x400, Stanford ran a season-best 3:31.66 – the eighth-fastest time in school history – to place sixth in its semifinal. Valmon opened with a split of 53.58, followed by Willis in 52.20, Whittaker in 51.97,
and Thomas closed in 53.91. On the third exchange, Whittaker handed the baton off in fourth and Thomas a bid at third on the final turn, though it fell short.

On Thursday, Stanford senior Ky Robinson will attempt to repeat as men's 5,000 champion. The race begins at 7:55 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2. 


Juliette Whittaker, Roisin Willis. Photo by David Hicks.

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NCAA Championships
At Hayward Field
Thursday's results


Team leaders (6 of 21 events scored) – 1, Florida 26; 2, Nebraska 22; 3, Oregon 15; 15, Stanford 6.
800 semis – 2, Juliette Whittaker (Stanford) 2:00.09 (No. 2 Stanford AT); 4, Roisin Willis (Stanford) 2:00.21 (No. 3 Stanford AT). 
Long jump final – 1, Ackelia Smith (Texas) 22-3 ½ (6.79); 3, Alyssa Jones (Stanford) 21-9 ½ (6.64).
Women's 4x400 semifinals – 16, Stanford (Maya Valmon, Roisin Willis, Juliette Whittaker, Samantha Thomas) 3:31.66 (No. 8 Stanford AT).

AT = all-time
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Stanford's Schedule


7:55 p.m.: Men's 5,000 final -- Ky Robinson.

3:44 p.m.: Women's 800 final – Juliette Whittaker, Roisin Willis.
4:25 p.m.: Women's 5,000 final – Amy Bunnage, Sophia Kennedy.