Mauldin’s Williams overcomes challenges

MAULDIN - It’s been a challenging year in cross country for Brittany Williams.

The season began at a high level for the Mauldin High senior. She finished her junior year by setting a school record in the 5,000-meters; she made all-state track last year; finished second in the Class AAAA cross country state championship; was a member of the S.C. Upper State Cross Country Championship team; and she earned the West Point Leadership Award -- the highest award to a junior.

Though this season hasn’t been what Brittany or her coach, Delmer Howell, had hoped for, the talented Maverick appears to have overcome those early setbacks by running strong times over the past month.

I’ve taken a different route on the season due to a couple of incidences that have occurred while running throughout the course of the season,” said Brittany.

Her season has turned around to where she recently was named girls’ Runner of the Week presented by On On Tri and Go-Green Timing. Brittany joins Colby Coulter of Lexington High, who was named boys’ Runner of the Week.

Brittany said she has been forced to adjust her goals for cross country as the season has progressed this year.

I had set a personal goal for time, but then I wanted to be able to return to running in the 18s, which I did,” she said.

In fact, during the last three cross country meets she has competed in, Brittany has clocked times of 19:02 at Region 2-4A; 18:44 at 4A Upper State Qualifying Meet and 18:37 at the Greenville County Championships. The Greenville County time was her best time this season.

Brittany first got into cross country via track. She had a strong freshman season in that sport and used that performance to enhance her long-distance running.

I began to drop a lot of time in all my events. It was almost inevitable to run cross country my sophomore year,” she said.

Brittany said the social side of cross country helps keep her motivated.

I love being with the team and interacting with the other teams that we compete against,” she said. “The running part is hard, no doubt, but I have made some incredible friends and memories since joining the team.”

The sport also has given her important lessons about time management “and just life skills that most of my peers haven't acquired yet.”

Brittany said she’s looking forward to State this weekend, where she’s hoping to improve on her time in the 5,000.

It’s hard to say if my times will improve since I find the State course so difficult,” she said, “but my time for State is not my top priority in the race.”

As for college, Brittany said she’s willing to give running a chance at the next level, “but I have no pressure to do it.” Right now, she’s leaning toward Appalachian State.

Coach Howell said he’s impressed with the way Brittany has responded to the setbacks this season.

As with any situation in life that stops you from doing what you want to do, it is how you respond to it that makes you who you are,” Howell said. “Brittany responded with the maturity and diligence of a real pro.”

Howell said Brittany is one of the best runners ever to compete for Mauldin High.

“As a young person, she is an extraordinary example for all young student athletes.”