Sports

Paly's Williams runs for state title in 100

 

If the schedule runs according to form with no interruptions due to inclement weather, Palo Alto senior Maurice Williams will settle into the blocks for the start of the 100 meters around 7:40 p.m. He'll be in Lane 2. A few lanes over will be the No. 2 sprinter in the nation, Remontay McClain of Covina.

For perhaps anyone else, the prospect of competing in the 100 finals at the CIF State Track and Field Championships would leave one a nervous wreck. But not Williams.

Williams is competing in his third state meet. As a freshman, he ran on the Vikings' 400 relay team. He didn't run track as a sophomore, but returned to Veteran's Memorial Stadium on the campus of Buchanan High in Clovis to compete in the triple jump last season.

"This his third trip to the state meet," said Paly coach Jason Fung. "How many others can say that?"

Perhaps more important than that experience, Williams already has competed on the state's biggest stage this season while helping Palo Alto captured a state championship in football. Thus, being in the state track finals doesn't surprise Fung.

"This whole year I've told him you can run these times," Fung related. "This year on the football field I've seen him do things I've never seen done before."

Williams did something he never accomplished before by qualifying for the 100 finals on Friday. His prelim time of 10.71 was a personal best and his start was his best ever.

"This was probably the best start I've seen him do," Fung said. "That start was amazing, powerful, explosive. I think he ran so well because he had someone to really push him."

When Williams crossed the finish line, he jogged over to Fung and told him: "I could have run faster."

As for the finals on Saturday evening, Fung said it's all about the start.

"Once he gets going, he'll be in there," Fung said. "He's just that competitive."

Williams was hoping to have two events on the final day of the 2011 state meet, but the Paly 400 relay just came up short while clocking 42.16 for 12th place. Only the top nine advanced. It was Paly's second-fastest time of the season and the No. 2 time in school history.

Fung said his squad of Tremaine Kirkman, Williams, Morris Gates-Mouton and Miles Anderson found the Mondo surface of the track unusually hard.

"They're used to the squishy Paly track," Fung said, noting that it wasn't a perfect race for the Vikings – who needed one to advance. Paly was hoping to not only eclipse the school record of 42.07 it ran at the Central Coast Section finals last weekend, but the all-time fastest clocking for any City of Palo Alto school, the 41.83 by Cubberley in 1979.

One bright spot for the relay team, however, was that it ran faster than Centennial (Corona), the team the Vikings beat for the state football title. Centennial's relay clocked 42.18.

Palo Alto sophomore Victor Du, meanwhile, also just missed qualifying for the high jump finals after clearing a personal best of 6-foot-5. He had one more miss at 6-5, which prevented him from advancing.

"He had a great attempt at 6-7," Fung said. "He just missed coming over the bar. I'm ecstatic for Victor. It was a PR, at the state meet. He was one of only three sophomores in the field. One cleared 6-3 and the other no-heighted."

Also missing out on making the finals was Menlo School senior Sam Parker, who ran a personal best of 1:53.52 for a school record and the fastest time by a CCS runner this season. That still got him only 18th overall in the fast field that was led by a 1:49.82 time.

In the girls' 800 prelims, Gunn junior Kieran Gallagher finished 25th overall in 2:18.89. The top qualifying time was 2:10.51. In the boys' long jump, Menlo-Atherton senior Stas Della Morte leaped only 20-6 ¾ for 24th place. Had he duplicated his winning mark from CCS of 22-10 ½, he would have finished sixth and advanced to the finals.

Joining Paly's Williams in the finals on Saturday will be Gunn senior Erin Robinson in the girls' 3,200. No prelims are held in the race. She's scheduled to start at 8:46 p.m.

By that time, Williams will be heading home with Fung and Anderson – perhaps with a top-six finish and a medal.

— Keith Peters/Palo Alto Online Sports

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