LOS ANGELES — Cole Williams (San Francisco) ran two laps as fast as he could for the first time in his collegiate career and the standout Occidental College freshman didn't disappoint.
Williams won Section 1 of the 800 meters at the Oxy Distance Carnival on Friday, finishing the race with the evening's top time and the best NCAA Division III qualifying time so far in 2012 (1 minute, 50.31 seconds).
Shane Brogdon, a junior from Mississippi College, set the previous best in the event, running 1:55.52 at the Southern Miss Invitational on March 10.
Everyone from junior college, SCIAC, Division I and even professional runners participated at Bill Henry Track, but the promising, young Williams stole the show.
"To run that fast, and to be in the best shape of his life this early in the season is rare," Occidental track and field coach Rob Bartlett said. "He's going to be a force to be reckoned with at nationals."
He sat close behind the leaders for most of the first lap-and-a-half before making his move to the front near the final turn.
"I tried to hold out until 120 or 100 (meters out)," Williams said. "Then I just tried to turn it on, stay relaxed, focus on form and bring it home."
It's a strategy that's worked for him so far this year.
Four meets into the season, Williams is turning lots of heads. He was 1 second away from catching U.S. National Team runner Charles Jock in the 1,000 meters at the Pomona-Pitzer All Comers meet on Feb. 18, and he ran a key split that kept the Oxy 4x400 meter relay team in front of USC for two passes of the baton at the Rossi Relays on Feb. 25.
Still he's focused on improving.
"It's early in the season and there's still a lot of work to be done," Williams said. "But it was a lot of fun to be out there on our home track."
Williams' female counterpart in the 800 meters wasn't too shabby either.
Oxy's Claire Larson (Columbus, Ohio) held a lead for a portion of the Section 2 race, though she was passed up by the winner, Glendale Community College's Lillia Asserian, and had to settle for third (2:17.96). Her time was ninth best in the women's 800 overall.
Colin Smith (Las Vegas), another freshman, earned himself a spot underneath the Occidental Track and Field Hall of Fame momentos with the ninth best 5K in school history (14:40.21).
"I kind of suprised myself with this race," Smith said. "I found myself ahead of my normal pace a lap out and decided to push it in."
Oxy completed its scoring against Pomona-Pitzer left over from its dual meet on March 9, beating the Sagehens of the men's side 69-66, but losing 76-73 on the women's side.
The three-point advantage on each side means the combined men's and women's scores, which the schools use to determine which institution gets to don the Oxy/PP Dual Meet Banner in the next year's meet, end up in a tie. There are no written tiebreaking rules for yet in the rivalry, but Oxy Track and Field Hall of Famer Dixon Farmer and public address voice at the event sarcastically suggested, "that according to the SCIAC rulebook, the score will be settled with a 400 meter race between head coaches."
No telling when it will happen.