2024 Stanford Invitational

Stanford Invitational: Three Storylines To Watch In Palo Alto

Stanford Invitational: Three Storylines To Watch In Palo Alto

NCAA champs Luke Houser and Taylor Roe are making their outdoor debuts, while Simeon Birnbaum is running his second race as an Oregon Duck.

Mar 29, 2024 by Maxx Bradley
Stanford Invitational: Three Storylines To Watch In Palo Alto

Over the next two days, hundreds of high schoolers, collegians and professionals will open up their outdoor campaigns in sunny Palo Alto, California at Stanford University.

The Stanford Invitational is set to have a contingent of national champions, All-Americans and some of the best athletes in the world compete at the Cobb Track and Angell Field this weekend. 

While there are more than enough storylines both on and off the track to preview, a trio of distance fields are looking to be ultra-competitive.

Here are three storylines worth watching this weekend.


Oregon's Birnbaum, Wisconsin's Spencer Lead 1500m Field

After establishing himself as one of the fastest high school milers in history, current Oregon freshman Simeon Birnbaum kept everybody on the edge of their seats as they awaited his collegiate debut. 

At last week's Oregon Preview, Birnbaum finally opened up as a Duck and ran 3:45.27 on a rain-soaked track, coming eight seconds shy of his high school personal best of 3:37.93.

Alongside Birnbaum will be fellow Ducks Elliott Cook, and Rheinhardt Harrison, as both seek good times in better racing conditions.

Outside of Oregon, Wisconsin's Adam Spencer is making the trip out to California and is the only finalist from the 2024 NCAA mile in the field. Spencer was runner-up earlier this month in Boston, Massachusetts and comes into the race with a 3:37.34 best.

Iowa State's Ezekiel Rop is also entered and he is the lone athlete from last year's NCAA 1,500m final where he finished seventh. 


Alabama's Olemomoi and Loaded Field Set To Battle Over 25 Laps

Alabama's Hilda Olemomoi seems to be the one to beat over 25 laps tonight, sporting a 32:05.83 best that came just under a year ago at the Bryan Clay Invitational. 

Olemomoi hasn't slowed down since, claiming four All-American honors in the months following. Paired with her 4:40 mile speed, it might prove difficult for anyone to keep up with the junior once she kicks it into high gear.

However, if anyone is going to be both brave enough and up to the task to do so, it'll be none-other than Taylor Roe, the Oklahoma State senior who is known to grind out strong performances in any event. 

Roe is the fourth-fastest collegian of all-time indoors over 5,000m and she is coming off a runner-up finish at NCAAs earlier this month. She'll be accompanied by teammates and training partners Molly Born and Gabby Hentemann, with the trio most likely looking to work together as they navigate through the field.

Washington's Haley Herberg and Northern Arizona's Gracelyn Larkin both have faster times than the Cowgirl trio, so don't be too surprised if they're up front dictating the pace as well.

Additionally, Division II star Lindsay Cunningham and Division III star Fiona Smith are set to compete, both looking to add another record to their legacy in their respected division.




National Champs Houser & Robinson Set To Duel In 5k

The men's 5000m field at the Stanford Invitational will have quite the variety of athletes going toe-to-toe, even with 1,500m specialists moving up in distance and stepping up to the line for 12 and a half laps.

For starters, Washington's Luke Houser, the two-time defending NCAA champion in the mile, is running his first 5K since last May and he is hoping to go under 14:00 for the first time since 2022. 

He'll have plenty of guys around him to help get him there, including Stanford's Ky Robinson, the reigning 10K/5K NCAA champion from last June. Robinson clocked a time of 13:06.42 at Boston University in December. Here, there's no telling how fast he'll run.

New Mexico's Habtom Samuel, who is still riding the high from becoming the second-fastest collegian over 10K just a few weeks back, is running his first 5K outdoors and he enters with a 13:13 best from May of 2022.

Other collegians include Wake Forest's Rocky Hansen, Oklahoma State's Dennis Kipngetich  and Salt Lake Community College's JaQuavious Harris.

Professionals Kenneth Rooks and Olympic gold medalist Matthew Centrowitz are each set to run as well, both moving up from their respective events, the 1,500m and 3,000m steeplechase.