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Williams Is Something Special

Award: Already the only four-time NCAA 100-meter winner, the USC star becomes fourth track and field star to win Honda-Broderick Cup.

June 18, 2002|BILL DWYRE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

DALLAS — When it comes time for the 2004 Athens Olympics, you'll likely hear plenty about Marion Jones, the established U.S. women's sprint star. Chances are, you'll also hear a lot about Angela Williams. In the same races.

The recognition is beginning to pile up for Williams, one of the most decorated track and field performers in the history of USC.

Monday night, she won the prestigious women's collegiate athlete of the year award at a dinner here that, for the 26th consecutive year, celebrated women's college sports with the awarding of the Honda-Broderick Cup to the best of its best.

Williams put herself alone on a track and field pedestal recently by becoming the only athlete, male or female, to win four consecutive 100-meter races in the NCAA championship meet. By winning the cup, she joined the prestigious ranks of Jackie Joyner, Mia Hamm, Ann Meyers, Nancy Lieberman, Cheryl Miller, Mary T. Meagher and Tracy Caulkins, among others. The only other track and field competitors to take the cup have been Vicki Huber of Villanova in 1989, Suzy Favor of Wisconsin in 1990 and Joyner of UCLA in '85.

A shaken Williams, clearly surprised by the announcement, took a moment to wipe away some tears before speaking to the dinner crowd.

"I am truly blessed and honored by this," she said. "To see video of all the other athletes here, and to see all they have achieved, was amazing. And then to win ... "

The list of athletes that Williams beat out for the award, each selected by voting from NCAA member schools, included Bea Bielek of Wake Forest in tennis, Sue Bird of Connecticut in basketball, Tara Chaplin of Arizona in cross-country, Natalie Coughlin of California in swimming, Erin Elbe of Georgetown in lacrosse, Jeannie Finch of Arizona in softball, Virada Nirapathpongporn of Duke in golf, Andres Pickens of Alabama in gymnastics, Logan Tom of Stanford in volleyball, Aly Wagner of Santa Clara in soccer and Autumn Welsh of Maryland in field hockey.

Bird was not eligible for consideration in the final voting because her WNBA team, the Seattle Storm, would not allow her to miss a Monday practice session to fly here. The Storm plays the Sparks tonight in Seattle.

The Division II player of the year was track athlete Nicole Duncan of Cal State L.A. and the Division III winner was lacrosse player Julia Bergofsky of Middlebury, Vt., College.

Williams, also named the women's track and field athlete of the year by the U.S. Track Coaches Assn., June 5, is from Ontario and was a star at Chino High, where she became the first prep female runner to go under 11 seconds in the 100 meters, when she clocked a wind-aided 10.98 as a junior in 1997.

Her best 100 time, unaided by wind, is still the 11.04 she did as a USC freshman, and she turned an 11.06 at the Mt. SAC Relays in April, which remains among a handful of top times in the world this year.

Williams had chosen to come to Dallas a day later than most of the other honorees so she could remain home in Ontario with her father, Johnny, on Father's Day.

"We just hung out, went to church and to a movie," she said. "It was his day. I wanted to be with him."

Lisa Love, senior associate athletic director at USC, represented USC at the dinner, which runs in conjunction with the national college athletic directors convention. About Williams she said, "She always has had a great perspective about competition, kind of a joyful exuberance about running. It took that sort of approach to win four NCAA 100s."

Love said she had the sense, as far back as when she met her as a high school recruit, that Williams would be special.

"She was one of those 17-year-olds who can look you in the eye," Love said. "She has always had kind of a subtle wisdom about her."

Up next for Williams is a summer of international competition she hopes will propel her toward 2004 Olympic success. Her previous Olympic experiences have not been memorable. She tore a hamstring trying to make the 1996 Olympic team and came down with flu when it came time to compete for a spot on the 2000 team in Sydney.

"Athens is out there," she said "It's where I hope I'm headed, just step by step, day by day."

USC's only other Honda-Broderick Cup winner was Miller in 1984.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

USC Sprint Sensation

A closer look at Angela Williams' career highlights:

Four-time 100 champion: Williams beat teammate Natasha Mayers by 0.01 seconds to become the first person to win four consecutive NCAA titles in the 100 meters (11.29 seconds) at the NCAA championships at Baton Rouge, La.

Third-place finish: After leading USC to an NCAA title as a junior, Williams and the Trojans settled for third place at the championships behind South Carolina and UCLA.

Super prep: Williams' wind-aided 10.98 100 as a junior at Chino High was the first sub-11 second clocking for a high school girl.

Olympic hopeful: A torn hamstring ended her chances of making the 1996 U.S. Olympic team, and flu prevented her from competing in 2000. She finished third in the 100 at last year's U.S. championships but was eliminated in the semifinals of the 100 at the world championships.

Quotable: "In terms of what she's brought to the program, you get an Angela Williams probably once in a coaching career. Certainly, she's the greatest sprinter in the history of women's track and field at USC, and maybe one of the better sprinters ever, in terms of her accomplishments, whether male or female, collegiately.''--Ron Allice, USC's director of track and field

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