Harrison Williams broke Stanford's decathlon record for the third time, scoring 7,842 points to win the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays on Thursday in Austin, Texas. It's the third-highest score in the world this year and the best among Americans and collegians.
Only a sophomore, Williams eclipsed the 7,806 that he scored to finish fourth at the NCAA Championships last year. The objective in his outdoor season debut was to get a score high enough to qualify on points for the NCAA Championships in June.
He likely did so, and much more.
"We were really pleased with the score and the result," said Michael Eskind, Stanford's coach for multis. "Other than a disappointment in the high jump (6-2 3/4 on Wednesday), this was a great two days."
Williams competed only 18 days after his previous multi, the seven-event heptathlon at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Birmingham, Alabama, where Williams broke a school record to place fourth. The short gap wasn't ideal, but the Texas Relays offered a chance to get an early qualifying mark, allowing Williams to spend the bulk of the season focusing on training.
"We knew he was fit based off of how he'd done at Indoors," Eskind said. "We took a really light week after NCAA's and then put in some solid work the past 10 days to get ready for this meet. I'm really excited to get back to work to get ready for the championship portion of the season."
Williams strengthened his chances of reaching the U.S. Olympic Trials. Though he fell short of the 7,900 automatic qualifying standard, Williams' score should be enough for inclusion because it's unlikely enough automatic qualifiers will fill the field.
Williams set one personal record in the two-day, 10-event competition, opening Thursday's competition with a 14.35 in the 110-meter high hurdles, an improvement over his previous best of 14.51. The 930 points from the hurdles were the second-most of any event for Williams. The exception was his 941 in the pole vault (16-8 3/4) in the eighth event. After a 4:34.12 to finish third in the 1,500, Williams finished 396 points clear of second-place Roman Garibay of Mexico.
Williams' score is the highest by a collegian or an American this year. It also likely secured a spot in the NCAA Championships June 11-12 in Eugene, Ore. The top 16 in the country earn passage and a score of 7,400 is the anticipated cutoff.
Since coming to Stanford, Williams has competed in nine multi-event competitions, and has broken a record in all but one. They include an American junior decathlon record, three school decathlon records, three freshmen decathlon records, a school heptathlon record, and a Stanford freshman heptathlon mark.
At the 2015 Pac-12 Championships, Williams broke his first Stanford record, eclipsing a mark set that the great Bob Mathias established in winning his second consecutive Olympic gold medal, at the Helsinki Games in 1952. The score of 7,592 -- converted from a then-world record of 7,887 to reflect modern scoring tables -- was Stanford's oldest existing record. Williams scored 7,679 to break Mathias' mark, but even that one stood only a month before Williams broke it again at the NCAA Championships.
Williams' next decathlon is expected to come at the Pac-12 Multi-Events Championships at University of Washington on May 7-8.