Sports Track & Field

Silent Killer: Meet UH track star De’Vion Wilson

De’Vion Wilson has blossomed into one of the greatest hurdlers in UH history. | Courtesy of UH Athletics

For decades, the UH men’s track and field team has not been a stranger to success, having produced Olympic greats such as legendary sprinters Carl Lewis, current head coach of the track and field program, and Leroy Burrell. A shining star of the program today is senior hurdler De’vion Wilson, who is beating and setting new records every time he is on the starting line. 

While Wilson beats and sets new records, there was a time in his life when he didn’t think he would still be competing today. 

“It’s kind of surreal because after my freshman year, I wasn’t sure if I was gonna run track anymore,” Wilson said.So just to be back and be doing as well as I am doing, it just feels great.”

During his freshman year on the team, Wilson was bullied due to his sexuality. Older teammates would pick on him, which eventually led to Wilson struggling with mental health and quitting the track team for a year before he got back. 

“The first year I got here, I didn’t really mess with the team. I wasn’t coming to practice. I was kind of being picked on because I was gay,” Wilson said. “I wasn’t having a good time so I wanted to just quit track altogether, but I ended up just going home for a year and Carl reached out.” 

Lewis reached out to let Wilson know that they would love to have him back on the team and that he will always have a home at UH athletics. 

“His support really helped me get through what I was going through and continue my track career for the cliche question of the year,” he said. 

Wilson makes his mental health a priority now, meditating and doing yoga to calm him when he is stressed. He aims to stay focused on keeping up with school so that he stays on track.

Since coming back to the track team, Wilson has broken several records, most notably breaking the school record in the 110-meter hurdles at last year’s NCAA Championships with a second-place time of 13.26 seconds.

“I think I have really good mental fortitude that I’ve been working on,” Wilson said. “I’ve been seeing a sports psychologist and I feel like this really clicks something in my brain to just make me compete at a higher level.”

In the past four years, Wilson has grown as an individual and athlete, said Will Blackburn, director of track and field. He has always been an athlete who strived to be the best since he started his career at UH. While it took a little while to find his footing on the track, Wilson is a leader on and off the field, Blackburn said. 

“He’s the silent killer,” Blackburn said. “What I mean by that is he’s always smiling, he’s always pleasant. He was always around everybody. He’s a good teammate, you know, that cheers him on in a fist bump or a quiet motion. He’s not the vocal guy, but when he’s on the track, man, he is one of the leaders on the track.”

Wilson’s hurdles coach, Aleec Harris said that Wilson is a better hurdler than he was, as a former USA and national champion. Wilson is very quick between the hurdles, his technique is smooth, Harris said. 

“The foot speed in between the hurdles — he’s the best that I’ve seen after the fifth hurdle,” Harris said.  “He’s able to use his endurance, shuffle endurance and shuffle frequency.”

Last year, Wilson represented Team USA when he competed at the Pan American Games and won second place in the 110-meter hurdles with a 13.78 run. 

On Saturday, he won the Big 12 title for the 60m hurdle with the best time in the nation, 7.55 seconds. Wilson is now focused on winning the NCAA championship and making it to an Olympic team one day. 

“He was a silent killer,” Harris said. “He was an underdog and now he’s trying to transform into just a leader and just being dominant in it.” 

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