Freshman Harrison Williams shattered his own Stanford decathlon record and became the school's highest finisher ever in the 10-event competition, scoring 7,806 points to place fourth in the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Thursday before a crowd of 10,015 at Hayward Field.
At age 19, Williams was the youngest in the field and moved up to No. 2 on the all-time United States junior list in the event, for those 19 and under.
Combined with Dylan Duvio's third place in the pole vault Wednesday, Stanford has 11 points, which surpasses its total for each of the past two years.
Williams set a Stanford record of 7,679 on May 10, breaking a standard established in 1952 by two-time Olympic gold medalist Bob Mathias (7,518) at the Helsinki Games. Now, Williams seems to have put it as far out of reach as Mathias did so many years ago.
Williams opened with solid marks in the 110 hurdles (14.68) and discus (124-7), but it was his 16-4 ¾ clearance in the pole vault that thrust him from eighth to third. He scored 910 points, his highest in any event of the two-day competition.
After a javelin throw of 163-8, the school record was as good as broken. Williams made sure with a 4:30.89 in the 1,500 meters to secure the record and Stanford's first-ever spot on the NCAA decathlon podium. He needed only 5:39.86 to break his record.
Two Stanford women's middle-distance runners advanced to finals: junior Claudia Saunders in the 800 and freshman Elise Cranny in the 1,500.
Saunders ran 2:03.38 to finish second in her heat -- only the first two in each of the three sections advanced automatically -- while freshman teammate Olivia Baker (2:04.55) missed advancing by 0.12.
Cranny spent the first few moments after her race anxiously looking at the scoreboard. Her kick improved her position by several places, and Cranny discovered that she indeed placed fifth, to earn the final automatic qualifying spot in her heat. Unbeknownst to Cranny, her 4:17.87 would have been enough to advance based on time.
The only single-event final for a Stanford athlete Wednesday was in the women's javelin where sophomore Victoria Smith placed 16th with a throw of 155-1, earning the Canadian second-team All-America honors.
With a foursome that included three true freshmen, the Stanford women's 4x400 relay team maintained second-place in their semifinal and an automatic qualifying spot until the homestretch of the final leg.
The team of junior Kristyn Williams, freshman Olivia Baker, freshman Gaby Gayles, and freshman Michaela Crunkleton Wilson ran 3:36.35. Though the Cardinal did not reach the final, it finished 15th overall to earn each member second-team All-America honors.
Stanford competes in only one event on Friday: the 5,000 with fifth-year senior Erik Olson and sophomore Sean McGorty. That concludes competition for the Cardinal men.
On Saturday, Stanford will have five women in finals: Cranny, Saunders, Valarie Allman in the discus, and Vanessa Fraser and national leader Jessica Tonn in the 5,000.