Personal best likely lands Williams in field at NCAA track


Stanford sophomore Harrison Williams likely earned a trip to the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships by scoring a personal-best 5,690 points to win the heptathlon at the Penn State National meet on Saturday.

There is no automatic qualifying for the NCAA Indoors, rather the top 16 marks at the end of the season earn passage. However, it appears Williams, Olivia Baker and Claudia Saunders secured spots Sunday.

Baker clocked 2:04.10 to win the 800 meters, with Saunders third (2:04.43), and Malika Waschmann fifth with a huge personal best of 2:05.47 that places her squarely on the NCAA bubble.

They join the men's and women's distance medley relay teams and men's triple jumper Darian Brooks as Stanford representatives who appear to have done enough thus far to get them to Birmingham, Ala., for nationals March 11-12.

Williams was second after the first day of the seven-event competition, but produced victories in the pole vault and 1,000 to conclude a Day 2 that began with a second in the 60 hurdles.

Though Williams failed to earn a personal best in any event, he was close in all but one. That one, however, was the pole vault. He cleared a best of 17-3 two weeks ago, but managed only 15-11 on Saturday, creating a single source of disappointment.

Williams' score was No. 2 in Stanford indoor history. Josh Hustedt's record 5,837 from 2007 may not last long.

"I'm definitely hoping to score much higher next time," said Williams, whose next multi will be at NCAA's. "But I think overall it was a solid meet with a lot of solid marks. I'm pretty happy with the result."

In the women's 800 on the 200-meter banked Horace Ashenfelter III Track, Baker and Saunders each ran their personal best indoor times and, along with Waschmann, secured three of the top five spots in Stanford indoor history. Baker is now No. 2, Saunders No. 3, and Waschmann No. 5.

The race didn't start off well for the trio. Teammate Kaitlyn Williams bolted to the front as a rabbit, but the Stanford runners lost contact immediately when the other runners closed in front of them.

"Given the situation we were in, it was best for us to just sit within striking distance and kick in the last 100," Baker said. "It ended up working well."

With about 250 left, Baker and Saunders finally managed to pass two and work themselves into position, and on the backstretch, both made a move on Georgetown's leader Andrea Keklak.

Baker secured the lead, though Keklak held off Saunders for second. Not far behind was Waschmann, a junior who crushed her outdoor best by more than two seconds.

"I knew Malika was getting really close to being able to do that," said Chris Miltenberg, Stanford's Director of Track and Field. "It's an awesome sign of growth. She's been steadily working and believing for two-plus years. It shows what happens when they commit to the process."

Baker, whose time was just 0.1 off her outdoor best of 2:04.00, appreciated the efforts by her teammates.

"I know how difficult it was for Claudia to come back today after running a hard 1,200 leg in the DMR last night," Baker said. "But she really showed great strength and toughness to turn around less than 24 hours later and run 2:04. And Malika came off a 2:08 DMR leg and ran even faster. I'm so blessed to have these ladies as friends and training partners, and I'm looking forward to seeing how we all race in the coming months."

Brooks and teammate Jaak Uudmae remained at a high level in the triple jump, following lifetime bests in their most recent competition. Brooks reached 52-0 to finish fourth overall, but as the top collegian.

In the women's triple jump, sophomore Marisa Kwiatkowski moved into the No. 10 spot on Stanford's all-time indoor list with a leap of 40-10 1/4, breaking her own Philippines indoor record of 40-7, set Jan. 16 in Seattle.

In the women's 1,000, Stanford sophomore Maddy Berkson won in a landslide. Two Georgetown runners, at least one was a rabbit, stepped off the track while leading and Berkson was left alone, far in front of the field. She ran a personal best 2:47.08.

In the women's 3,000, junior Vanessa Fraser led most of the way while reeling consistent laps of 36 and 37 seconds, but was overtaken by Villanova miler Angel Piccirillo, making her 3,000 debut, on the penultimate lap. Fraser finished second in a personal best of 9:14.06.

In the men's 500, Jackson Shumway ran strong while placing second in 1:03.14, and Collin Leibold ran the 3,000 in a personal best 7:59.51 to place third.

Leibold led a chase pack that caught Mississippi's Ryan Walling, who had a lead of perhaps 50 meters with three laps left. Leibold was the first to reach Walling, on the final turn, but was passed an instant later by Georgetown's Jordan Williamsz, who won in a furious finish with the top three finishing within a half-second of each other.

"There were a lot of positive things today," Miltenberg said. "Enormous positive momentum is the biggest thing. A big part of coming here was learning how to adapt to a different environment and challenges."

Miltenberg said the Stanford distance medley relays – a school record for the men (the No. 5 time in collegiate history) and a victory for the women with the No. 8 time in collegiate history – got the entire team fired up on Friday, and that carried over into Saturday.

"The women's 800 was a prime example of that synergy and what a group pulling for each other can do," Miltenberg said. "We're coming out of this with a lot of momentum and we're excited to keep getting better."

— David Kiefer/Stanford Athletics

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