CLAREMONT — Cole Williams (San Francisco) did what he's done all year long: Outrun the field.
The Occidental College track and field freshman cruised to a win in his heat of the 800 meters on Friday, advancing to the finals of the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Williams, who finished in 1 minute, 51.96 seconds, will run in the 800-meter final on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
Williams sat in second place for most of the race before surging to the front at about the 600-meter mark. He looked over his shoulder once or twice to be sure he, "didn't get boxed in," while cruising to a relatively comfortable victory.
"On the first lap, I didn't really want to take it because there was still a lot of wind out there. I wanted to try to conserve as much energy as possible and I felt like I was in a good spot on the shoulder in second," Williams said. "At the home straight, I was just checking (over my shoulder) to make sure no one was having a real strong kick and making sure I didn't have to push it too hard."
Williams needs to finish among the top eight in the nine-athlete final section of the event to be named an All-American, but the budding Oxy superstar should be closer to the front. The SCIAC 800-meter champion came into the meet seeded third and held the top time Division III time for several weeks earlier this season.
"It's a culmination of a great season of training, obviously I executed well," Williams said. "The race went as planned and it feels good. I'm ready for tomorrow and I'm excited for tomorrow."
Jonathan Padron (Kapolei, Hawaii), the only other Oxy track and field athlete to qualify for the championships, jumped out to an early lead in the 100 meters, but appeared to tighten up midway through. He fell into fifth in his heat, finishing the sprint in 10.77. Padron, who's seasonal best was 10.58 when he won the SCIAC Championship at Redlands on April 28, did not make Saturday's final.