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Eagles' Williams wants breakout senior year

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips<br> Collins Hill's Sydney Williams is one of the top runners for the Eagles in the 800 and on relays.

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips
Collins Hill's Sydney Williams is one of the top runners for the Eagles in the 800 and on relays.

For the last three years, Sydney Williams has been in the shadows of some of the state’s top runners.

First it was Amanda Winslow and then Nicky Akande last year.

After waiting her turn, the Collins Hill senior is finally in the spotlight.

THE WILLIAMS FILE

• Who: Sydney Williams

• Sport: Track and field

• School: Collins Hill

• Class: Senior

• Favorite TV show: “Jersey Shore”

• Favorite sports team: UConn

• Dream job: Pharmacist

• Where do you get your speed from?: God

• Noteworthy:

Placed fourth at state in the 800

Finished eighth at cross country state meet

Will run at Kennesaw State next season

Williams is the top returning finisher from last year’s state meet in the 800 and is a big part of Collins Hill’s run for a 10th top-four finish at state.

“She’s always been a team player,” Collins Hill coach Andrew Hudson said. “This is the first season really where she’s the one we’re looking to lead. Last year it was Nicky, the years before that Amanda, now it’s Sydney.”

Williams has patiently waited behind Winslow and Akande, who are now running at national powers Florida State and Villanova, respectively. The duo captured state titles as seniors.

Now it’s Williams’ turn to be the star.

“I don’t feel pressure, but I feel I have to take more of a responsibility,” Williams said. “I have to be a role model for my teammates.”

Williams is accustomed to being on the big stage since her freshman season. She helped Collins Hill to state titles in cross country and track during the 2007-08 school year.

“I had a good freshman year. I was surprised,” Williams said. “I just wanted to keep working hard and try to do things on my own.”

As a sophomore, she scored points for the Eagles’ seven-time cross country state championship team. That team’s performance at the state meet and at regional events made it one of the top cross country teams in state history.

Williams earned All-American honors twice in track on the national champion distance medley relay and in the sprint relay.

“She has a lot of experience,” Hudson said. “She’s done it all. She’s done cross country, she’s done sprints, middle distance and distance races. She’s really done it all.”

Except win a state title of her own.

That’s why this season, her final as a high school athlete, is so important.

“I plan to do things on my own and make a name for myself,” Williams said.

Williams placed fourth at last year’s state meet in the 800. The state champion was Akande and with the top three graduated, it makes Williams an early favorite to win the title.

“Coming in this summer, I told her we have two big goals for you,” Hudson said. “I think you can get a medal at state cross country. She did that. I think you can get a state title in the 800 and hopefully help us as a team have a state title.”

Williams is part of a talented group of runners. Cross country state champion Chloe Whitworth and Vicky Winslow give the Eagles strength in the distance events, while hurdler Chelsey Johnson and pole vaulter Megan Kellar add depth.

But it all starts with Williams.

“She has the most experience of that group,” Hudson said. “She’s the queen of the team, queen of the program in a large senior class. She’s not a vocal leader. She’s just solid. She really does the workouts the way you’re supposed to do them.”