(Multi)ple Wins For The Williams Family
Listen to Kendell & Devon Williams on The Athletic Experience Podcast
The Collegiate Record holder for the Women's Pentathlon, Kendell Williams, won her fourth straight NCAA Title in the Indoor Multi-Event. Fellow Georgia Bulldog, Devon Williams, took home the men's multi-event title with a point total that places him as the fourth highest scoring athlete in NCAA History. The dynamic duo of Georgia's Kendell & Devon Williams would be special on it's own if they were only teammates, but the brother/sister combo makes this story even sweeter.
Kendell Williams set the NCAA Women's Pentathlon record as a freshman in the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships back in 2014. Kendell aslo took home the title in 2015 and 2016 as well. After going to Rio to represent Team USA this past summer, one could imagine the fourth title would be smooth sailing...
Headed into the fourth event, Long Jump, Kendell Williams held a slim 13 point lead over Arkansas Pentathlete, Taliyah Brooks. With the fifth best jump in the NCAA leading into the National Championship, one would imagine this was the event Kendell would separate herself from the pack. Kendell leapt to a fantastic mark of 6.47m (21-2.75) but was beaten by Brooks by 1 centimeter overall. The 13 point lead was cut to 9 as the Pentathlon moved to the final event, the 800m.
1 second in the 800m is worth about 13 points in the Women's Pentathlon, which means Kendell Williams would have to stay within half a second of Brooks, or just flat out beat her in the final event. That's as simple as it gets in the multi-events. Kendell prevailed in the final event, beating Brooks by 7 seconds, and posted the 3rd best Pentathlon score in NCAA history. (K. Williams owns 7 of the top 8 scores all time.)
Down to the wire, just as the Georgia Bulldog and 2016 Olympian planned it out! Kendell became first woman to win four NCAA Titles in the same event - ever. An astonishing accomplishment to be followed by just watching her brother Devon finish the Heptathlon the next day... after she cools down, sees the trainer, misses the Pentathlon award ceremony and warms up for the Women's Open Long Jump , makes the final and earns another All American award, of course! Six events in one day, at the NCAA Championships level, Kendell made Day 1 of the Decathlon look pretty easy.
Thankfully Devon Williams has seen his sister win NCAA Titles before, and her success on March 11th was no distraction for him as he perused his own title. Devon got off to a quick start in the 60m Dash with a time of 6.88s. He then won the Heptathlon Long Jump with a leap of 7.83m (25-8.25 (which would have tied for 3rd over all in the Open Men's LJ)) and after he threw the Shot Put 14.11m, he found himself in the lead after three events. A 1.95m clearance in the High Jump put Devon Williams in 3rd after Day 1 of the Men's Heptathlon.
Devon Williams started off Day 2 at a blistering pace. While no other Indoor Heptathlete broke 8 seconds in the 60m Hurdles, Devon ran 7.75s, a Personal Best and a University of Georgia record. Pole Vault is a strong event for Devon, but a stronger event for Timothy Duckworth, the man in the over all lead prior to the vault. Duckworth of Kentucky is one of the best multi-event vaulters in the world and proved it, flying over 5.26m (17-3.)
Devon Williams cleared 5 bars less than Duckworth, which amounted to a 154 point difference. Devon went from down 70 points (about 6.5 seconds in the 1000m) after the hurdles, to down 224 points (about 20 seconds in the 1000m!) after the Pole Vault. 224 points has never been overcome by any Heptathlete at the NCAA Championships, and 1000m is not a lot of distance to easily create such a gap in the field.
As Devon describes in Episode 033, the final event is more of a mental battle than a physical one. Of course the race is physical, but making sure your mind is ready to go might be just as important is what Devon explains. 20 minutes prior to the final event, Devon tweeted, "Gonna leave it on the track, whatever happens after that, I am happy with" - @_DMillions.
As 14 athletes lined the track for the 1000m, the event which decides it all, Devon accomplished something never done before. 2 minutes and 41 seconds later, his 224 point deficit became a 12 point lead. Devon Williams - The 2017 NCAA Heptathlon Champion. One second slower, and Devon would have placed 2nd overall. The biggest gap became the tightest of victories.
It should be noted that Tim Duckworth, the athlete Devon Williams passed in the final event, is only a JR, and on his way to a PR score of 6165, he was named All American and broke his own British National Record - results that should not be regarded as a "defeat."
What Kendell Williams has done in four straight NCAA Championships speaks for itself. Devon Williams now ranks only behind two Olympic Medalists, Ashton Eaton & Trey Hardee, and Curtis Beach, as far as the NCAA goes. Kendell & Devon also own the World Record for the highest sibling total score Indoors and Outdoors!
(6177 Indoor Heptathlon + 4703 Indoor Pentathlon and 8116 Outdoor Decathlon + 6402 Outdoor Heptathlon)
Whether it's their family, their faith, their coach, their school, their hard work... a combination or just a coincidence, it's special. Kendell & Devon have accomplished something that we may never see again. Siblings, from the same school, in the same class, winning essentially the same event at the NCAA Championships in the same year... Incredible.
I look forward to speaking with whatever brother / sister combo can top this, so for now, you're going to be stuck with these two STUDS. The Athletic Experience Podcast - Episode 033 - (Multi)ple Wins For The Williams Family - Kendell & Devon talk about their training, accomplishments, diets, video games, future dreams and more.
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About the author:
Tom FitzSimons is a professional decathlete who represents the Santa Barbara Track Club. Over the course of six USA National Championships / Olympic Trials appearances, Tom has placed himself on the podium once, placed 4th overall in the 2015 US Championships and competed for Team USA internationally twice. Less important, but just as entertaining, Tom holds a Guinness World Record - Check it out here. He is the host and owner of all things related to The Athletic Experience.