Having teamed to win the distance medley relay the night before, Willis, in 1:59.93, and Whittaker, in 2:00.03, ran the second- and fourth-fastest times in collegiate indoor history.
Their 18 points in that event contributed to Stanford’s fourth-place as a team, with 33 points. It was the highest finish and most points for the Cardinal women since taking second with 36 points in 2006.
The Stanford men were led by sophomore Udodi Onwuzurike, who took fifth in the 200, running 20.36 on the 200-meter banked track. It was Stanford’s highest finish in that event in this meet.
In the 3,000, junior Ky Robinson was 10th in 8:03.87 to close out the meet for the Cardinal men, who tied for 32nd with seven points.
The Cardinal women lift their fourth-place team trophy. Photo by Kirby Lee/Image of Sport.
Willis and Whittaker competed in four races over two days (including 800 prelims), including two each day within an hour of each other. Their final race came in the 4×400 relay. In their four-team section, Whittaker appeared to have a slight lead on the exchange to Willis on the anchor. However, Willis grasped three times for the baton before securing it and the Cardinal lost valuable time. The team, which included Alexa Rossum and Maya Valmon on the first two legs, was 12th overall in 3:32.80, still the third-fastest indoor time in school history.
The highest previous finish for a Stanford female in the 800 at this meet was third by Olivia Baker in 2016. From the gun on Saturday, it was clear one of the two would better that. Willis, Whittaker, and LSU’s Michaela Rose – the three fastest in the nation during the season – broke from the pack.
At first the two Stanford runners led, but Rose grabbed the lead by the 400, coming through in 58.96, to 59.15 for Willis and 59.35 for Whittaker, who moved into second at the bell.
On the backstretch of the final lap, Willis and Whittaker rounded Rose, who faltered down the stretch while the Cardinal runners extended their gap to the finish. On the all-time collegiate indoor performers’ list, reigning Olympic champion Athing Mu of Texas A&M is first at 1:58.40 from 2021, Willis is second and Whittaker is third. Willis and Whittaker also rank fifth and sixth in the world this year.
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