Stellar track career ending for Parkland’s Williams  

Stellar track career ending for Parkland’s Williams  
April 30
00:00 2015
Above: Photo by Craig T. Greenlee- Ebony Williams (middle) is the Class 4-A state indoor record holder in the 55-meter hurdles.

Miscalculations can prove costly in a hurdles race. Ebony Williams of Parkland High knows all about it. The memory of last year’s disappointment Class 4-A state outdoor track championships hasn’t been forgotten.

Coming down the home stretch of the 300-meter hurdle finals, Williams had a seven-meter cushion and victory seemed certain. But with 50 meters to go, she hit the second-to-last hurdle and fell to the track, crushing her hopes of winning her first individual state title.

“That’s something that I still haven’t really gotten over,” said Williams. “I try not to think about what happened a year ago. But here it is a year later, and I’m hoping that I’ll get another chance to run the 300 hurdles at the state and have a different outcome. I’m doing everything I can to make sure that I’m prepared for it.”

Much has happened since that unexpected ending. Ebony Williams has fortified her reputation as one of the nation’s elites. In the MileSplit USA rankings, she’s No. 4 in the 100-meter hurdles (13.69 seconds). Entering the final days of the track season, Williams is No. 1 in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles (43.38 seconds) in the N.C. Runners state rankings.

Williams, a senior, is looking to close out a stellar career in grand style at the state outdoor championships on Saturday, May 9 in Greensboro. To do so, she must place among the top four in her events at the regional championships on Saturday, May 2, in order to qualify for state.

Assuming she makes the cut, her story line figures to be one of the most intriguing for the state championships. Inquiring minds want to know if Williams can match her standout performance at the state indoor championships in February.

Williams owned the competition as Parkland’s girls won the team title for the second year in a row. In the meantime, she won the 55-meter hurdles and 300-meter dash and ran the anchor leg on the Mustangs’ gold-medal winning 4×200 and 4×400 relay teams. For that day’s body of work, Williams was voted MVP of the state championships.

“That was a shock to me,” said Williams, who will graduate with a 4.1 weighted grade-point average. “I never saw it coming. I broke the 55-meter hurdles record, which made me No. 1 all-time (in North Carolina) and I was named MVP. Looking back on my whole high school career, that’s something I’ll always remember. It was just amazing.”

Over the past three seasons, Williams has bloomed as one of the most versatile high school track athletes in the state. During that span, she’s placed among the top eight in both hurdle events at state meets (indoors and outdoors). Williams is equally formidable as a key cog in the sprint relays. Since her sophomore year, Parkland has reigned as a two-time national champion in the 4×200 (indoors and outdoors) and three-time state champ in the 4×400.

“Ebony has broken every hurdles record at Parkland and she’s played a huge part in helping our relay teams win championships,” said Coach Antwan Hughes. “Not only is she a great leader, but she’s an outstanding role model, athletically and academically. All the girls, especially the younger ones, look up to her. Ebony has done a remarkable job.”

Williams will end her high school career as one of the Triad’s most accomplished track athletes in recent history. Even though she’s won championships and has a college scholarship to run track at Clemson University, staying hungry and motivated has never been an issue.

“My team keeps me motivated,” she said. “We don’t run in a lot of meets in Winston-Salem. But when we do compete in local meets like our conference championships, we want to leave no doubt that this (Central Piedmont) is our conference.”

In recent years, the dominance of Parkland’s girls in track and field is undeniable. Compared to their counterparts, the Mustangs have proven to be head-and-shoulders above the rest of the pack. As a result, expectations are sky-high, but that doesn’t mean that Williams and her teammates take winning for granted.

“People look at us and say that we’re so good and we make things look so easy,” she said. “But it’s what we do in practice that makes all the difference. We train like animals. Coach Hughes runs us so hard and so much, that when it comes to competing in a meet, it’s a breeze. That’s how we’re able to keep running faster and keep setting records.”

The curtain is getting ready to close on the high school careers of Williams and five other Parkland seniors who will also run track in college. Nateja Hale (UNC Asheville), Ila Mumford (Appalachian State), Erin Morrison (Hampton), Miaysha Bryant (N.C.  Central), Katlin Sherman (UNC) and Williams were teammates in summer track before their arrival at Parkland in 2012.

“What I’ll miss most is the team bond, the chemistry,” said Williams. “I’ve run with the same group of girls since the age of 13. We’ve all known each other for the longest (time). Since I’m going to a different state for college, I won’t get to see everybody. I’ll see some of them, but they’ll be running for another school. So, it’s not like we’ll be able to catch-up with each other like we did when all of us were in Winston-Salem.”

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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