SHIPPENSBURG — For some athletes, the first trip to the PIAA track and field championships can be overwhelming.
For Wissahickon junior Darien Williams, it was a showcase. The speedster had a terrific weekend capped by a third-place finish in a blistering final heat of the Class AAA boys 100 meter dash Saturday.
Williams ran a 10.81 in the finals, outpaced only by Cheltenham’s Christian Brissett and champion Dan Chisena of Downingtown East.
“I didn’t get out as well as I wanted to but I finished strong,’ Williams said. “I caught up a little bit but they really got out on me.’
Despite his speed, Williams was making his first appearance at states. Last year, a hamstring injury derailed him at the District I meet in Coatesville, pushing back his debut at Shippensburg for an entire year. Once he got there, the Trojan wasted little time making a mark.
In Friday’s preliminaries, Williams ran the day’s fastest mark, a 10.97. While the mark didn’t win him anything, it was a positive step going into the second day.
“I said I know that I’m up there,’ Williams said. “I knew I could do well today.’
A false start caused a re-set and restart in the final, which Williams said took the initial adrenaline rush out of his system. But, Williams said having to get set in his blocks again made him a little angry, which he used in the restart.
Some runners gear it back in the prelims and semifinals, making sure there’s something left in their tank for the final. Williams on the other hand, said he wanted to go all in in each of his three sprints. He was also a part of Wissahickon’s 400 relay on Friday, which did not advance out of the preliminaries.
With seven of the state’s best sprinters lined up on either side of him, Williams got caught up in the moment.
“I did, I felt it,’ Williams said. “I saw Chisena just pumping his arms, just going at it. I thought, OK, this is fun. I like this.’
The only two guys to beat Williams on Saturday have also helped him along. Their skill pushes other runners along and Williams said when he’s talked with Chisena, they’re on the same page as far as putting in the required work.
“When you’re on the track, they’re your enemy but when you’re off, you respect each other a lot,’ Williams said. “A 10.53 (Chisena’s time), that’s amazing, especially because he’s not going to run track in college and I was telling him he should really consider it.’
Williams said he’ll continue to compete over the summer in the Junior Olympics. He said he’s working to strengthen his hamstrings and wants to break the 10.70 barrier next year.
He also wants the No. 1 spot, but he knows there’s plenty of young guys gunning for it as well.
One lesson the junior learned well this weekend was that anything can happen. From the false start, to Chisena and Brissett’s (10.66) times to jumps and fluctuations from post times to finishes, it showed Williams once the gun goes off, it’s unpredictable.
“I thought maybe I was going to get a lower medal or not medal at all,’ Williams said. “I wasn’t expecting a third-place medal. I’m very happy.’
Williams thanked his coaches along with his teammates, especially Darren James, Ethan Dolberry-Wescott and Kyuande Johnson, the latter sacrificing a chance at the mile to run the 3200 relay that ultimately didn’t work out for a state bid.
“I really respect him for that,’ Williams said.
Williams was happy with his individual success, but lamented the 4×100 team’s one-day stay. But, it did provide a valuable lesson.
“You’ve got to realize there are people better than you out there,’ Williams said.
Kieran Moore can throw things very far, and he’s good at it. The Upper Dublin senior will be doing that next year at Coastal Carolina.
But before that, he had a final state competition to take part in, with a high seed in the Class AAA shot put. Like most of the times he goes up to throw things, it worked out pretty well for Moore.
The senior placed third in the shot put with a personal best 54-11.
“I just took this like any other meet,’ Moore said. “You can’t let it get to your head because that’s when you make mess ups.
“It’s the last meet of the year; you’ve got to go all out for it.’
The Flying Cardinals’ girls’ 3200 meter relay team placed 10th in the finals, running a 9:23.98 for their best mark of the season.
Moore said he focused on his hand placement on the ball. It comes down to comfort and if his hands aren’t set right, he knows it won’t be a good attempt.
The throw beat his personal best by two inches and came in the last attempt of the preliminary flights. While it went further than any other he’s had, it didn’t seem different.
“It felt like any other throw I’ve ever had,’ Moore said. “It didn’t feel like anything spectacular but it ended up better than all my others, so I’m happy with it.’
For the last time, a Moore brother competed in a state track and field meet. There will be one more medal to add to the trophy case because of it.
“It feels very good to finish up my high school career with a medal,’ Moore said.