Sports

One of Stanford's oldest track records finally falls in 1,600 relay

 

One of Stanford's oldest track and field records fell on Saturday, smashed by three sophomores and a former walk-on at the Michael Johnson Invitational at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

The Cardinal 4x400-meter relay team of Harrison Williams, Frank Kurtz, Isaiah Brandt-Sims and Jackson Shumway ran 3:05.59 to finish third against a strong field. The record breaks the converted mark of 3:06.74 set in 1978 by a team anchored by NFL Hall of Fame receiver James Lofton.

The 1978 team of Paul McCarthy, Gordon Banks, Alan Sheats and Lofton ran a hand-timed 3:06.6 in winning the Stanford Invitational Relays on March 18, 1978, at Stanford Stadium. Lofton ran a 44.8 split, giving him one of his three school records. Now, he has two – in the 200 and long jump.

Stanford became the 10th-fastest school in the nation this year and the time will likely get the Cardinal into the NCAA West Prelims, from which the NCAA Championships field will be determined.

This was the first time this team had ever raced together. Williams, a sophomore, is Stanford's decathlon recordholder and has run 47.16 in the 400. Kurtz, a sophomore, was limited by illness last year, but has returned to the fitness that got him a 47.03 in high school -- the fastest 400 best on the team. Brandt-Sims is a sophomore receiver on the football team and a 100-200 specialist who has stretched himself in distance under new sprints coach Gabe Sanders. And Shumway, a senior, came to Stanford as a walk-on and has developed into one of the best 400 hurdlers in the Pac-12 -- he was second in the conference last year.

Williams started off with a 47.0 split, followed by Kurtz in 46.6, Brandt-Sims in 46.4, and Shumway in a scorching 45.3. Shumway's open 400 best is 47.36.

Williams preceded the relay by winning the 110 high hurdles in 14.27, just 0.02 off his best, and Shumway ran a lifetime best 51.39 in the 400 intermediate hurdles to finish third.

The Cardinal finished behind only Texas A&M (3:02.96) and Texas Tech (3:05.18). The race capped a strong overall day for Stanford, which brought its sprinters, jumpers, and throwers to Baylor while its distance runners competed at home at the inaugural Stanford Twilight meet on Friday.

Valarie Allman, the reigning Pac-12 discus champion, unleashed personal bests in two events -- the discus and the hammer. She won the hammer at 199-5 -- a 10-foot improvement. In her past seven tries at either the hammer or the indoor 20-pound weight throw, Allman has set a lifetime best each time, dating to the hammer at last year's Pac-12 Championships. She jumps three spots -- past teammate Lena Giger, 2001's Maureen Onyeagbako, and 2002's Jessica Pluth -- to No. 3 on Stanford's all-time performers' list. She's 23rd on this year's collegiate list.

However, the discus is her specialty, and Allman improved four inches to 190-11, good for second against two-time defending NCAA champion Shelbi Vaughan of Texas A&M (199-3). Allman is No. 6 on the year's collegiate list.

A Texas native had a big day in her home state. Kristyn Williams won the 400 in 52.99 and anchored the 4x400 team to victory in 3:33.96. The team of Gaby Gayles, Olivia Baker, Kaitlyn Williams, and twin Kristyn ran the No. 8 time in school history. Earlier, the sophomore Baker was second to Williams in the 400 in 53.17, placing her No. 5 on Stanford's all-time list.

The relay team set a record for Clyde Hart Stadium. Gayles led off with 53.7, Baker ran a 53.0 split, with Kaitlyn Williams in 54.3 and Kristyn Williams in 52.8.

Freshman Hannah Labrie-Smith set lifetime bests in both hurdles events -- running 59.67 for second in the race and No. 8 at Stanford all-time, and 14.15 for fifth in the 100 hurdles.

Sophomore Daryth Gayles, a twin of Gaby, moved onto the Stanford all-time list for the first time, at No. 10 by placing second in the women's long jump at 20-1 3/4.

Giger moved to No. 5 in the women's shot put with a winning toss of 53-3 1/4, and teammate Tristen Newman, another Texas native, had a big personal best in the men's hammer of 183-10 for second.

Overall, Stanford had 10 improvements or additions to its all-time top-10 performers' lists, including eight by the women. One of those was Gaby Gayles, who was fourth in the 400 in 53.76, moving her to No. 8 all-time at Stanford. It also means Stanford now has three sub-54 quartermilers.

At the Brutus Hamilton Invitational in Berkeley, Stanford sophomore Rachel Reichenbach cleared 5-8 in the women's high jump at Edwards Stadium. She equaled the height of Sabina Sandberg, but the Wyoming jumper was awarded the victory on fewer misses.

Reichenbach was second at the 2014 U.S. junior championships with a lifetime best 5-8 3/4, but missed her freshman season with an injury. Now back in peak shape, Reichenbach will finish this season as a high jumper before training for the heptathlon next season.

— Dave Kiefer/Stanford Athletics

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