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In the fast lane
Danielle Williams leads JCSU’s ‘Legion of Zoom’
 
Published Wednesday, March 26, 2014 3:03 pm
by Herbert L. White

Danielle Williams has run down a place in track and field history.

PHOTO/CURTIS WILSON
Johnson C. Smith senior Danielle Williams won three events in the NCAA Division II women’s indoor track and field meet in Winston-Salem, a first for any athlete. Her goal for the outdoor season is to repeat the feat and help the Golden Bulls to a national team title.

She’s still chasing goals, though.

The Johnson C. Smith senior became the first Division II athlete to win three individual national titles at the same meet when she swept those races earlier this month in Winston-Salem. In addition to winning the 60-meter hurdles for the second straight year with a clocking of 8.12 seconds, Williams, the leader of JCSU’s “Legion of Zoom,” claimed the 60-meter dash and 200 meters to lead the Golden Bulls to second in the national championship.

“I was preparing for all three events… with the hope that maybe I could win all three, but my focus was on the hurdles,” she said. “The other two were just a wonderful surprise.”

Williams, a native of St. Andrew, Jamaica, is a big name in collegiate track and field. She’s a three-time national athlete of the year (indoors and outdoors in 2013, indoors 2014) and runs with equal efficiency in sprints as hurdles. 

“When she came here four years ago, she was a pretty fast high school sprinter,” Golden Bulls coach Lennox Graham said. “She ran like an 11.67 (seconds in the 100) and she had gone to the World Junior Championships and placed fourth. She was already a pretty good student athlete but she’s improved her hurdle time from 13.4 to 12.6, which is huge, and that 11.6 became 11.2. Her biggest improvement was in the 200, where she went from 23.9 to 22.6, so she’s really come along well as an athlete.” 

Said Williams: “Coach likes to say I’m (good at) both, but I prefer the hurdles. “I think I’m better at that one.”

Williams has the genes to succeed. Her older sister and greatest rival, Shermaine, advanced to the 2012 Olympic finals in the women’s 100 hurdles. The siblings squared off in last week at the UNC Charlotte Track Classic, with Shermaine Williams, a JCSU graduate running unattached, setting a meet record of 13.14 in the 100 hurdles. Danielle was second at 13.43 and JCSU teammate Samantha Elliott took third at 13.46. 

Editor, Herb White captures Danielle Williams on video

“We talk and we trade secrets sometimes,” Danielle Williams said of the relationship with her sister. “I mostly use here as a competitor. “She’s obviously a little bit better than me, so I just try to beat her each time I go out. My aim is to beat her.”

“They love each other, but they’re fiercely competitive,” said Graham, who coached both sisters. “Neither of them is going to give. That makes it pretty interesting.”

Williams will be busy during the outdoor campaign, competing in the 100 meters, 100 and 200 hurdles and 4x100 relay. Her goals are lofty: repeating as national champion in the 100 and 200 meters and adding the 100 hurdles title to an impressive resume. She’d also like to be part of a national championship team after finishing second last year, six points from the top spot.

“We’re working on it,” she said. “We need to focus now on getting more athletes to the national championship because each time we go, there’s only five or six of us. The first step is to get more people to qualify. The more we have, the more points we can score.”

• JCSU’s next meet is March 28-29 at the Raleigh Relays. The Golden Bulls’ lone home meet is the annual JCSU Invitational, April 11-12 at Irwin Belk Complex. The CIAA championships are April 18-19 in Petersburg, Va.

 

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