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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Sports

Senior hurdler will play crucial role on and off the track


WEB-Williams_Issac (2)

Senior hurdler Issac Williams is entering his senior season at UH, and will be looking to build on the successes of last season. | Courtesy of UH Athletics

Issac Williams has left the entire nation with no doubt that he is one of the best hurdlers in the entire world.

The defending AAC champion in 110m outdoor and 60m indoor hurdles is entering his final season of competition for UH and after three straight seasons of qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor Championships, Williams has his eye set on winning gold on the grand stage.

“Last season I had a great year,” Williams said. “I stayed healthy, I made it to indoor nationals for the first time and I made it to outdoor nationals. Last year I felt was a pretty successful season and its motivation for me going into this season.”

While Williams has accomplished a lot, he isn’t satisfied yet.

“I feel that as long as I can stay healthy it shouldn’t be a problem for me making nationals,” Williams said. “So since this is my last year, my goal now is to win nationals both indoor and outdoor.”

For the track & field coaching staff, Williams’ string of success has not come as a surprise, but more as the culmination of his hard work and raw talent paying off.

“He’s a hard worker and always willing to do the workouts,” assistant coach Carl Lewis said. “I think that’s where it starts in regard to why you’re so successful.”

Following a historic season, one where he finished third in the nation at the NCAA Indoor Championships in the 60m hurdles and set the fastest national time for the event when he ran a 7.72 at the Houston Indoor Opener, Williams is set to springboard into a fourth and final championship season — hopefully leading to further competition internationally.

“Looking at this season, the two guys who finished ahead of him at the NCAA meet were both seniors,” head coach Leroy Burrell said. “So he has a chance to be the best collegiate hurdler coming out this year, which I think will give him a good chance to compete internationally. Everybody starts the year wanting to win but not everybody has a legitimate shot, and he has a legitimate shot.”

But being the only senior hurdler means Williams is going to have to be a leader for the younger athletes.

That task becomes more important since he has two All-American athletes joining him as teammates, freshmen Amere Lattin and Marcus McWilliams.

Even with this new role, he plans on taking on everything the same way he always has.

“Issac’s pretty low key,” Lewis said. “A tremendous talent, very competitive, but he’s a little laid back and I think that’s good for him. That fits his personality.”

Lewis said that, while Williams isn’t the most vocal of leaders, he sets the standard for his team.

“Issac is not the guy who’s going to stand up and be a leader, it’s just not his personality,” Lewis said. “He’s the kind of guy who’s going to lead by example. He’ll lead by working hard, he’ll lead by running fast, and he’ll lead by being a champion. As long as he does what he’s been doing he’ll be a tremendous leader.”

Not only is Williams’ success on the collegiate level beneficial for his team’s success, but for mentoring the younger athletes coming in.

“The younger guys out of high school have to make adjustments to the higher hurdle and running at a higher barrier and he’s lived it,” Lewis said. “He made that adjustment really quickly and has grown over the past three years.”

“They’ll have a living breathing model, for what it means to be a world class hurdler.”

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