CLAREMONT — It didn't count for anything and the meet was more of an icebreaker for the 2012 Occidental College track and field teams, but the statement Cole Williams (San Francisco) made in his first collegiate meet was still incredible.
Williams, a freshman, finished less than one second behind United States Track and Field National team runner Charles Jock in the 1,000 meters at the Pomona-Pitzer Track and Field All Comers meet on Saturday, showing off just what type of career he may be headed for as a Tiger.
Jock, a UC Irvine runner who was racing at the meet unattached, crossed the line in 2 minutes, 22.75 seconds with Oxy's Williams not long after in 2:23.52.
"We're talking about a guy who ran at the World Championships last year," Occidental coach Rob Bartlett said. "Granted (Jock) was holding back a little, but for Cole, as a freshman NCAA Division III runner, to be in that race and finish that close to one of the best half milers in the world, was pretty amazing."
It wasn't the first time Williams has shown off some serious talent in his first year at Oxy either. In November, 2011, the Urban School of San Francisco product was the fifth freshman men's cross country runner to finish at the NCAA Division III nationals in Oshkosh, Wis.
Oxy's most impressive female performance on Saturday also came from a freshman. Jenny Quilty (Sheffield, Mass.) won her 100 section, finishing with the day's second-best time (12.95), and the best time Bartlett remembers as an Oxy coach dating back to his own Oxy running career in 2002.
"She's the real deal," Bartlett said. "She's going to be the real deal for us over the next couple of years. And her time in the 200 was good too." Quilty finished the 200 in 26.47, behind just Kira Helmer (26.14) and Redlands' Vainayaki Sivaji (26.16).
The last women's runner Bartlett can remember running the 100 at least as fast as Quilty did in her first showing, was Occidental Track and Field Hall of Famer and women's 100 meter school record holder Kristen Stuart '05, who set the Oxy record, 12.06 seconds, back in 2002.
Julie Xu (Northville, Mo.), Meghan Fruth (Camarillo) and Austin Cheadle (Portland, Ore.) also had notable performances on a day that Bartlett called more of a, "glorified training day."
Xu and Fruth both ran a leg on the second fastest 4x400 relay team (4:17.78), and Fruth was third in the 400 (1:01.44). The split Fruth recorded in the relay (60.3) was even better than her individual race, a good sign of her room for improvement as the season builds toward SCIAC meets.
Xu was second in the 400 meter hurdles (1:10.12).
Cheadle won his 100-meter section, finishing with a top-ten time (11.24) on the day.
The Oxy track and field teams are back in Claremont this weekend competing at the Rossi Relays at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Saturday at noon.
"This weekend is a little bit more serious," Bartlett said. "It still doesn't count for anything, but we'll try to continue building towards the SCIAC meets."