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Not All Talk : Former Sprinter Williams Won't Brag About His Past

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Ron Williams, sprint champion * One in an occasional series

July 09, 1995|JOHN ORTEGA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Allice, who would guide the Vikings to 11 state titles during his 16 years at Long Beach before becoming the men's coach at USC, had great rapport with the introverted Williams.

"I've just never been one of those guys who trusts a lot of people," Williams said. "I've always been a loner and I've always been very picky about my friends. But I felt really comfortable around Coach Allice. He's the type of guy you could talk to about anything. And if you needed help with something, he would help you. I really liked that."

Allice describes Williams as a "very kind and gentle person, but I think I knew how to bring out the aggressive side of him on the track."

Williams' times of 20.92 in the 200 and 45.4 in the 400 in 1979 backed up that claim. Larry Goldston of Mt. San Antonio beat Williams for the state title in the 400, but Williams' 45.4 tied for eighth on the United States list that year and 17th on the world list.

His exploits earned him a scholarship to USC, where he joined a Trojan team that included sprinters James Sanford (who ran 10.02 in the 100 and 20.26 in the 200 that season), Billy Mullins (44.84 in the 400) and Bill Green (45.37), but Williams never got untracked.

Bothered by hamstring injuries, questions surrounding Mullins' junior college grade transcripts that led to him being declared academically ineligible and overwhelmed by the size of the USC campus, Williams struggled to times of 21.2 in the 200 and 46.74 in the 400.

"Looking back on it, I might have been better off going to another school," said Williams, who also was recruited by Arizona, Arizona State and San Diego State. "There were a lot of rumors that the program might be put on probation because of the Mullins stuff and I just never really felt comfortable there."

Allice was not surprised. He said that Williams was the kind of athlete who needed to feel needed and who responded better to a pat on the back than a kick in the rear.

Ken Matsuda, the Trojans' highly successful sprint coach at the time, was not known for coddling his athletes.

"Ron had the type of personality where he might have felt more comfortable being the top dog at a school than being one of a great stable," Allice said. "I'm not knocking him, but that's the way Ron was."

Frustrated by the hamstring injuries and feeling the need to help out his uncle financially, Williams sat out the 1980-81 school year and worked.

He enrolled at Cal State Northridge in the fall of 1981 with a year of eligibility remaining, but his career ended in 1982 when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee playing basketball.

The year did have its bright spots, however.

He and Danielle, friends since they met at Long Beach City, began dating off and on for the next three years and started living together in 1985. They were married in 1989 and Danielle says Ron is a great family man.

"Kids can get on my nerves from time to time, but he just loves being a father," Danielle said. "He goes back to Louisiana with Rian for two weeks each year to visit his family and that gives me some time to relax by myself."

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