Stanford men rally to help sweep Big Meet in Berkeley


In a track and field duel that came down to the final running event, Stanford trounced California in a rainy 4x400-meter relay to earn its first men's team victory in four years and sweep the 122nd Big Meet at Edwards Stadium on Saturday.

Stanford rallied from a 15-point deficit over the final four events by shutting out Cal in three of them to win, 86-77. Meanwhile, the Cardinal women led from start to finish to rout Cal, 114-48, and earn their fifth victory in six years.

Darian Brooks
After a Cal sweep of the men's discus, the Bears led, 73-58. But Stanford responded with sweeps of the pole vault and 3,000 to take a 76-73 lead going into the relay.

Stanford made a late switch to insert Harrison Williams, its school-record decathlete, into the relay lineup. Williams, with a 47.17 best in the 400, gave the Cardinal a 10-meter lead on the leadoff leg and teammates Isaiah Brandt-Sims, Daniel Brady and Jackson Shumway extended it from there. The Cardinal ran 3:11.21 to Cal's 3:18.14.

Stanford had trailed by as many as 43-25 after eight events.

The relay finished a big day for Williams, only nine days removed from winning the decathlon at the Texas Relays in a school-record 7,842 points.

Williams, a sophomore, also won the pole vault (16-0) and set a lifetime best in the 110 high hurdles (14.25, second place), in addition to leading off the second-place 4x100.

Though Stanford had the meet in hand, two-time defending Pac-12 champion Darian Brooks finished off the meet by winning the triple jump (50-9 1/4) for the final margin. Brooks was a catalyst, earning the victory in his first long jump competition in two years, winning at 23-10 3/4.

Stanford won all four men's jumping events, but none was greater than the high jump by Dartis Willis II, a fifth-year senior who matched a lifetime best 7-2 1/4 to win. It was his best jump since 2011, an outdoor personal record and it moved him to No. 5 on Stanford's all-time outdoor performers' list.

Also significant was the collegiate track debut for freshman Grant Fisher, one of eight high-schoolers in history to run a sub-4 mile.

Fisher was third in the 1,500 in a personal best 3:42.86, behind teammates and two other members of the sub-4 club, Sean McGorty and Tom Coyle. McGorty earned the victory in 3:42.11 and Coyle kicked to second in a personal best 3:42.68.

In the men's 800, Stanford placed four in the top five – each in a lifetime best. Justin Brinkley led the charge in 1:49.81 with Tai Dinger just behind in 1:49.84, his best by nearly two seconds.

Both the Stanford men and women won the 4x400 relays for the sixth consecutive year, but a more impressive streak continued in the women's javelin.

Freshman Mackenzie Little – two for two in meet victories so far in her young collegiate career – won the event in 179-5 to give the Cardinal its 14th consecutive victory in that event.

Defending Pac-12 discus champion Valarie Allman won her specialty (184-2), but also captured the hammer in 189-1 – a four-foot personal best – moving her past Carol Cady to No. 6 all-time at Stanford. With Allman and Lena Giger (182-10) going 1-2 in the hammer, Stanford launched the rout, outscoring Cal in 16 of the 19 events.

Another top-10 addition came in the 400 hurdles, where freshman Hannah Labrie-Smith moved to No. 8 with her 59.71 victory.

Michaela Crunkleton Wilson, a sophomore, won the 100 (11.90) and 200 (24.40), just ahead of teammate Gaby Gayles in each, and anchored the winning 4x100 (46.60). And Kristyn Williams gave Stanford the women's sprints sweep by winning the 400 in 53.53 and 4x400 (3:44.58).

Vanessa Fraser provided the most stirring victory of the day for Stanford. Locked in a 3,000 duel with fellow All-America Bethan Knights of Cal, Fraser was passed on the backstretch of the final lap, but managed to grind out a final push down the stretch and beat Knights on the final stride, 9:18.20 to 9:18.25.

Another high-quality race came in the 800 when two-time NCAA outdoor runner-up Claudia Saunders pulled away from teammate Olivia Baker, third at NCAA Indoors, to win in 2:03.73 to 2:04.15.

— David Kiefer/Stanford Athletics

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