Stanford's Williams continues decathlon climb at NCAA meet


Stanford sophomore Harrison Williams crushed his own school record in the decathlon, scoring 8,032 points Thursday in the highest-scoring fifth-place finish in NCAA Track and Field Championships history.

It was the fourth time Williams broke the Stanford record, which lasted for 62 years before he arrived. His most recent mark was 7,842 from the Texas Relays in March. Williams has set personal records in all 14 of his lifetime multi-event competitions, dating to high school.

Williams achieved the Olympic Trials qualifying standard of 7,900, meaning he'll be back at Hayward Field in Eugene in July to try to make the U.S. Olympic team.

"That's a huge barrier for any decathlete," Williams said. "I'm happy to get that out of the way and score 8,100, 8,200 at Trials."

Williams did not match the fourth place of his freshman year, but was satisfied with fifth considering he competed in the most competitive decathlon in meet history.

Texas A&M's Lindon Victor won with 8,379, but the scores from second through eighth were the highest for their places ever in the championship meet.

"I was just happy to PR and get fifth," Williams said.

But he achieved much more than that.

"An 8,000-point score is certainly a big step toward being truly world class," said Michael Eskind, Stanford's multi-events coach. "That was the best NCAA decathlon from top to bottom, so for him to finish fifth behind four who have the Olympic standard (8,100), was amazing."

Williams set three personal records on Wednesday's first day, but left the track exhausted. He sat fourth with his best first-day score, of 4,097.

He ate as soon as he could after the meet, to replace the nutrients he lost, then got a massage from team therapist Jenna Boren, and went to bed early.

"Between the two days, you aren't really able to recover," Williams said. "You just kind of manage the pain. I can tell you when I wake up on the second day, I don't feel like doing the second day of the decathlon. I don't feel like I can lift my leg over a hurdle or pole vault. You just get warmed up and deal with it."

Williams immediately set a personal decathlon record for the 110 high hurdles with a 14.07, and followed with a lifetime best in the discus 136-8). He pole vaulted 16-4 ¾ -- just grazing the bar with his chest on his third try at 16-8 ¾ -- and threw the javelin 167-1.

The 1,500 offered no real shot at catching Arizona's Pau Tonnesen for fourth on the final event, but Williams considered a 4:22 to be an ambitious goal.

Though he fell short, he still had a two-second improvement upon his lifetime best, running 4:27.88, and was among the few decathletes not to collapse to the ground upon crossing the finish line.

Overall, he set five personal records of the meet. Afterward, he joined the rest of the decathletes for a very slow victory lap, pausing halfway down to pose for a group selfie taken by Eastern Michigan's Solomon Simmons.

"This is just another step closer to his ultimate goals," Eskind said. "I can't wait to see what he does in three weeks at the Olympic Trials."

Most of the finals will take place the next two days, with the men's on Friday and the women's on Saturday. But two Stanford women competed in field event finals.

Freshman Mackenzie Little was seventh in the javelin at 176-0, and Valarie Allman was 11th in the hammer throw with a lifetime best 200-11 – strengthening her hold at No. 2 on Stanford's all-time performers' list.

In women's running semifinals, Stanford advanced three to Saturday's finals. Claudia Saunders won her heat of the 800 in 2:03.68 and Olivia Baker was the meet's fastest time qualifier, in 2:03.56. In the 1,500, Pac-12 champ Elise Cranny was a comfortable second to advance on place in a season-best 4:15.87.

Non-qualifiers included Stanford's women's 4x400 relay team. The team of Gaby Gayles, Olivia Baker, Michaela Crunkleton Wilson and Kristyn Williams ran 3:35.92, placing seventh in their heat. Also, Molly McNamara did not advance in the 1,500, running 4:20.93, placing 20th overall.

Stanford has one competition Friday, with Sean McGorty and freshman Grant Fisher in the men's 5,000 final.

— David Kiefer/Stanford Athletics

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Like this comment
Posted by Thomas Bledsoe
a resident of another community
on Jun 10, 2016 at 4:22 am

He attend my high school, Memphis University School (MUS) in Memphis, Tennessee. We are all so proud of him. Harrison, we all will be cheering for you in the Olympic Trials. Go Owls!
Thomas Bledsoe
MUS 02

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