Athlete of the Year: Williams adds titles to cap ‘OK’ senior season
by Carlton D. White
cwhite@mdjonline.com
June 07, 2013 12:44 AM | 2203 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kendell Williams
<Br>Staff photo by Kelly J. Huff
Kendell Williams
Staff photo by Kelly J. Huff
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MARIETTA — Kendell Williams wasn’t too happy about the way she was competing leading up to this season’s state meet in Albany.

The Kell senior wasn’t getting the kind of results she wanted.

“This season was actually shaky for me,” Williams said. “I wasn’t performing how I was expecting myself to perform until (the state meet). That made state even greater because I wasn’t expecting to perform that well there either.

“But I think it was an OK season. Towards sectionals is when it started getting to the point where I was getting the numbers I wanted.”

If “an OK season” includes long jump, 300 hurdles and high jump championships at the Class AAAAA, Cobb County and Region 7AAAAA meets — which is what Williams accomplished — then what would a great season be?

For Williams, it’s not just about winning — it’s about achieving the best marks possible.

“What keeps me going is I know I want to be an Olympian,” she said, “so I have to keep working towards that goal.”

Williams, the 2012-13 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year, is well on her way to achieving her goal.

She capped her stellar four-year career at Kell with three more state championships this spring, bringing her total title haul to 11. She set a state record in the 100 hurdles and ran the fastest time in the nation among high school athletes after crossing the line in 13.23 seconds in the finals. Williams also set the state record in the long jump at 20 feet, 9¾ inches and cleared the high jump with a leap of 5-8.

For her efforts, Williams was awarded the overall high points award in Albany, as well as the award for high points in the field events.

“It’s really cool,” Williams said of the honors and awards she’s received. “I work really hard, so it’s good that it’s paying off and that other people notice. It feels really good.”

Kell coach Andi Jenkins knows the type of athlete Williams is and wants to become.

“This is the fourth year in a row for Kendell as the MDJ athlete of the year,” Jenkins said. “She is one-in-a-billion. You don’t have athletes like that that come through your doors hardly at all. To actually have the opportunity to coach her has been a real honor. She’s an excellent athlete, but she’s an excellent person first, and that’s what I think is so special about her.

“She does everything you ask her to do. She doesn’t complain. She’s a hard worker. That’s something, I think, a lot of people need to realize. She has a lot of natural ability, but she works hard to get where she’s at. I think that’s what makes her special as well.”

Williams will be heading to Georgia this fall to compete alongside her brother, Devon, and she has him to thank, in a way, for getting her involved in track and field.

“I got started when I was 7,” she said. “It was the Fourth of July and (my family and I) were at my brother’s baseball game. All of the boys were racing, and I wanted to race, too, so I kicked off my shoes and outran them all. So, my parents were like, ‘We need to sign her up for track.’ So, I’ve been doing it ever since. It’s been a part of my life.”

Williams’ exploits, as well as those of her teammates, helped Kell to a runner-up showing at the Class AAAAA state meet, the best finish in the program’s history.

“I’m so happy for my team,” Williams said. “I wish we would have won. That would have been the perfect way to end senior year. We all tried super, super hard. We took the biggest team ever to state this year, so it was fun to be with all of them. We were all excited. It was good.”

With Olympic aspirations in sight, Williams will continue to work hard at everything she does.

“The heptathlon in 2016 is what I’m aiming towards, so, hopefully, I can get there,” she said. “I’ll probably still compete in the hurdles, high jump and long jump, too, but I still have to work on my throws to score well in the heptathlon. I don’t do throws during the high school season, but I definitely do them in my indoor and summer seasons. I’m looking forward to competing and preparing myself.”
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