Story written by Fourth Estate Contributor Christen Roberts
Mason hurdler Anthony Williams is on the right track to become a contender in the world of track and field.
At the 2013 CAA championships, he set a personal record in the men’s 110-meter hurdles and made a name for himself.
“He ran those hurdles like a man possessed,” said Aaron Greene, a former George Mason basketball player and close friend of Williams.
Whether he is sprinting against the clock or jogging to class, he has grown accustomed to hurdling obstacles in his life. He has had to keep a constant balance between his life as a military child, maintaining his GPA, and improving his times on the track.
Williams, 20, was born in Hampton, Va., and raised in an active-duty Army household. His parents received transfer orders to work in Florida in 1994. Williams and his two siblings grew accustomed to their Florida environment, but were uprooted back to Virginia in 2004.
As a freshman at Potomac High School, Williams chose track and field out of the 16 sports offered. He said he felt he had a promising future ahead of him as long as he was running and not dribbling a basketball or throwing a football.
“I was always the tall and goofy kid that had raw athleticism with no skill,” Williams said.
At Potomac High, he graduated with a personal record of 14.18 seconds in the men’s 110-meter hurdles and that served as his golden ticket into the arena of collegiate sports.
Williams accepted a full athletic scholarship to George Mason University in February 2011. He had to choose between 15 schools offering him money. George Mason won out because of its coaching staff and hurdling history.
His specialty event is the men’s 110-meter hurdles in the outdoor season and during indoor season his main events are the 60-meter hurdles, 60-meter dash, 400-meter sprint, and the 4×400-meter relay.
At the CAA championships, Williams took the gold as the only underclassmen in his heat of the 110-meter hurdles. He swung out of his blocks like a slingshot and at 60 meters into the race he sprinted pass seven other men fighting for second place.
“Just trying to get the points to my team, that’s the biggest thing, trying to come in here and win our first team title. That was the only goal I had going into my race and it’s good to win,” Williams said.
Williams said it takes a lot of heart and determination to be a part of a sport and a team that is so physically demanding. His average day consists of class, treatment in the athletic training room, practice and weight training from 3-7 p.m., studying, and relaxing when he can.
During one of his practices, the coach gave the team a hurdle workout with 12 hurdles set up on the track and they had to sprint through them, down-and-back six times. He was first to step up to the line and start the workout and show the team how it’s done. For the sprint workout, they had one set of stair climbers in which they had to run 500 meters, 300 meters, 200 meters, 100 meters and then sprint 400 meters. He pushed as hard as he could and collapsed chest first on the finish line.
“You need to feel it,” said the sprints and hurdles coach Abigi Id-Deen.
“Ant is a leader by example. You always see him putting forth his best effort at practice as well as supporting his teammates. I think Ant will have a bright future in track,” said teammate Kiya Day.
At every meet, Williams has shown his potential and left opponents in the dust. He is humbled and motivated even in times of a loss. A few of his teammates said they look up to Williams and know they will see him in the future on everyone’s TV screens during the Olympics.
Williams said he hopes to run at the 2016 Olympics but if that is not in his draw of cards, he plans to become a graduate assistant track coach for one of the top programs at the University of Oregon or the University of Florida.
“It gives me a way to relieve stress, and I can get away from all of my problems when I’m on the track … it excites me and I like the challenge of being faster than the day before,” he said.
When asked about his goals and the future of George Mason’s track and field team in the Atlantic 10 conference, he said he likes the switch and his main goal for the team is to win a conference title and to individually make it to the USA championships.