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HBCU TRACK RECAP: WILLIAMS GETS OLYMPIC NOD
BRISTOL, CONN—It’s been a banner weekend for St. Augustine’s head coach George Williams and several members of his Falcon track and field squad.
On Friday, Williams was named the head coach of Team USA’s men’s track & field squad for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
The next day, the Falcons captured the women’s title (73 points) at the 2003 NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships held at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Boston.
Since becoming head track and field coach at St. Augustine’s in Raleigh, N.C., in 1976, the 59-year-old Williams has built a dynasty.
He has won 25 NCAA Division II titles during his tenure and he has received 90 Coach of the Year honors. His scholarship athletes at St. Augustine’s have achieved a 95 percent graduation rate.
Williams was men’s head coach at the 1999 World Outdoor Championships, the 1993 World Indoor Championships and the 1992 IAAF World Cup.
He was an assistant coach for the 1996 Olympic Games, where U.S. athletes won gold medals in all the event groups he was responsible for – 400 meters, hurdles, long jump and the 4x400m relay.
World-class athletes currently being trained by Williams include 2002 U.S. women’s 400m runner-up Michelle Collins, 2000 and 2001 U.S. women’s 400m champion and Olympic 4x400m gold medalist LaTasha Colander-Richardson, and men’s 4x400m relay world record holder and relay gold medalist Jerome Young, “I’m still dizzy,” said Williams, a 1965 St. Augustine’s graduate and the school’s athletic director since 1996.
“I think this one of the greatest things that can happen to anyone in this business. I’m so grateful to the athletes and the people who helped nominate me.”
“I’m going to be sure to make sure I’m the coach they know I am and to make sure they get what they have been training for, an Olympic medal.”
In the women’s competition, St. Aug’s Cadriesha Akinfe grabbed the first individual crown on Friday, winning the women’s long jump with a best leap of 6.00m.
Akinfe’s teammate, Samaiyah Islam, won the 60 meter hurdles turning in a time of 8.63.
St. Aug’s also swept the 400 meter dash as Wilan Louis won the men’s with a time of 47.67 while Libia Rodriguez captured the women’s race with a time of 53.83.
Abilene Christian, who finished second in the women’s team competition, won the overall men’s championship with 58 points. St. Aug’s finished 5th.
Another HBCU standout, N.C. Central’s Jason Smoots, posted a new meet record, turning in a time of 6.55 in the men’s 60 meter dash.
A native of Gadsden, Alabama, Smoots now has six national championships to his credit – three indoor (2001 55m, 2002 60m, 2003 60m) and three outdoor (2001 100m, 2002 100m, 2002 4x100m).
“It feels good,” Smoots said about his place in NCAA history, “but I thought I should have run faster.”
In the 800 meter run, St. Augustine’s claimed another title as Maria Medina topped the field with a time of 2:07.27.
St. Augustine’s also captured the women’s 4×400 meter relay with a time of 3:40.37.