Stanford track and field closed the first portion of its season at the NCAA Indoor Championships with top-10 finishes from Harrison Williams, Vanessa Fraser and the women’s distance medley relay team.
In the heptathlon, junior Williams finished sixth with a personal best and school record score of 5,970. After the first day of competition, Williams found himself in 11th place with just three events remaining. Williams would torch the competition on Day Two, clearing 17-7 (5.36 m) in the pole vault and very nearly breaking the NCAA record with close jumps at 17-11. He closed the meet with a personal best of 2:39.45 in the 1,000-meter to surge five spots up the leaderboard and finish just six points short of fifth-place Lindon Victor of Texas A&M.
“I was really proud of how Harrison competed these two days,” said multis coach Michael Eskind. “It’s a testament to his maturity and composure to have a lifetime best score with a single event PR.”
Williams scored 33 points higher than he did last year at the championships, where he placed fourth, an indication of the extraordinary depth of this year’s participants. It was the highest score for a sixth-place finisher in event history and would have also broken the record for fifth place.
The Cardinal men were also represented in the distance medley relay with high hopes as the No. 3 seed. However, a botched exchange on the final baton handoff between Brian Smith and Jack Keelan took the team out of contention, and they settled for a 12th-place finish.
Keelan also competed in his first NCAA individual meet, taking 11th in the 3,000-meter with a 8:10.03 time.
On the women’s side, senior Vanessa Fraser finished fifth in the 3,000, a five-spot improvement from last year. Fraser made her move from the back of the pack with five laps to to take the lead, but ultimately did not have the leg speed to close the race.
Junior Olivia Baker competed well in the 800-meter, cutting her time from last year by a few tenths to 2:04.45. It was the fastest-ever time by a Stanford sprinter at NCAA Indoors and earned her a seventh-place finish.
Earlier in the day, Fraser and teammates Elise Cranny, Missy Mongiovi and Malika Waschmann notched Stanford’s best result of the entire meet, a second-place finish in the distance medley relay. Junior Cranny entered the anchor leg in ninth place, but ran a scorching 4:33.76 1600-meter to move into first with barely 30 meters to go. However, Colorado’s Dani Jones emerged from the pack to match Cranny in the final lengths and inch into first by a mere 0.02 seconds.
Nevertheless, it was an impressive performance by the Cardinal relay team that helped the women earn a 10th-place overall finish. “We gave it everything we had,” Cranny said. “We all did the best we could. We’re happy with that.”
With the indoor season all wrapped up, most of the team will next compete at home in the Stanford Invitational on March 31.
Contact Neel Ramachandran at neelr ‘at’ stanford.edu.