When he first tried running track in middle school in Texas, Cameron Williams wasn’t a fan.
He turned to other sports, including his home state’s favorite way to spend Friday nights—high school football. But a hyperextension of his knee prior to his junior year season forced Williams (CGS’15, CAS’17) to turn one aspect of his game—his speed—into his primary asset.
“My whole life I’ve been in all types of sports, and I thought I was fairly speedy,” Williams says. After the knee injury, “I figured OK, I don’t think football’s for me anymore. So I decided to test out how track would do, and it went just fine.”
“Just fine” is an understatement. Last season Williams became the first BU sprinter to qualify for the indoor NCAA Championships. And the US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association awarded him Second Team honors, making him the first Patriot League sprinter to be named an All-American.
Williams, a track and field team captain this season, also owns the school record in the 200-meter dash for both indoor (20.58 seconds) and outdoor (20.56 seconds) competition. A four-time Patriot League champion, he took home the league’s Male Track Athlete of the Year award at last year’s indoor championships.
That’s but a brief summary of Williams’ accomplishments since donning scarlet and white, but the champion sprinter says he prides himself more on the program’s successes than on his own.
“I’m proud of my performances, I’m happy with what I’ve done, and I’m still trying to do more,” he says. “But I’m also proud of my teammates and how they’ve improved over the time I’ve been alongside them. It’s all pretty cool to me.”
Williams and those teammates will be giving it their all this weekend when they host the three-day Patriot League Indoor Track and Field Championships, starting today at the Track & Tennis Center. They are looking to build on a performance that saw the men secure a runner-up finish and the women bring home a title last season.
Women’s track and field team captain Toria Levy (CGS’15, COM’17), another four-time Patriot League champion, says her team is ready to work to defend its home turf.
“It definitely sets up a comfort level for everyone, just because we practice on the track every day,” she says. “Also, it makes us want to work harder. We don’t want anyone to beat us on our own track, especially in conference.”
As captains of such a large program (more than 80 athletes this season), Levy and Williams understand that the dynamic is different from other sports. Despite its size, Levy says, the team has a family-like atmosphere.
“Honestly, even though we’re such a large team, we’re all so close. I remember talking to one of my friends on the basketball team here, and he was like, ‘You guys are always hanging out together.’ That’s very true,” she says. “Even though it’s a large team, we’re always supportive and we’re always there for each other.”
Robyne Johnson, BU’s track and field and cross country director, says the end of the indoor season is just one stepping-stone in a long campaign for her athletes.
“It’s such a long season for us. People who can potentially make the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships won’t be done until June,” she says. “We try to schedule their training so that they’re peaking at the right time at the end of our indoor season, going into our outdoor season. In that respect, our season is going really great.”
Heading into this weekend’s meet, Johnson says, the key to strong finishes in conference is getting contributions from everyone on the team, regardless of their individual expectations or role.
The unexpected results are what “make the conference meet so exciting. People step up all of the sudden,” she says. “You might have thought, oh, they’ll just do OK, then they step up and do something amazing. Our usual standout people should be our standout kids, but it’s everybody else behind that. Second through eighth place is where you need people to be big. I’m excited to see our kids step up to the challenge, and it really is a full team effort.”
As Williams enters the final stretch of his BU career, he says the results will follow this weekend if he and his team stay focused.
“I’m not going to say that we expect to win, and I’m not going to say that we expect to lose,” he says. “I’m going to say that we are going to give every event that we’re in everything we’ve got and make sure that we hold our teammates accountable for what they’ve got to do. At the end of the day, the result will come.”
The BU track and field teams host the Patriot League Indoor Track and Field Championships today, Friday, February 17, through Sunday, February 19, at the Track & Tennis Center, 100 Ashford St. Today’s events begin at noon, Saturday’s at 8:45 a.m., and Sunday’s at 10 a.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children and students, and free with a Patriot League school ID. The awards ceremony is Sunday at 5:20 p.m. Sunday’s events will be streamed on the Patriot League Network.
Taylor Raglin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.