June 13, 2013
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - Freshman Chris Williams earned a big honor today as the Pac-12 conference announced Williams as the 2013 Men's Track & Field Freshman/Newcomer of the Year. The awards are based on a vote of the Pac-12 head coaches. Williams is the first Husky male to win a Pac-12 postseason honor of any kind since Ja'Warren Hooker in 2000.
Williams, who came to the Northwest from Philadelphia, had to make the college transition in not one but two events, as he ran the 110-meter hurdles as well as pole vaulted, a rare combo. He had outstanding success at both, qualifying for NCAA West Prelims in both events, as well as running lead-off on Washington's 4x100-meter relay. Williams advanced to the NCAA final site in Eugene last week in the hurdles as well as on the relay. In Austin at West Prelims, he posted the second-fastest 110-meter hurdles time in school history, 13.82 seconds, and the fastest since Spider Gaines' school record in 1976.
His best performance in the pole vault came at the Pac-12 Championships, where Williams was a surprise runner-up finisher after clearing a personal-best 17-feet, 3-inches. He was poised to finish third in the hurdles as well at Pac-12s, but fell over the final hurdle. For advancing to Eugene in the 110m hurdles and on the 4x100m relay, Williams earned a pair of All-America honorable mentions.
The Pac-12 Freshman/Newcomer of the Year award dates back to 2000, and Williams is the first Husky man to win. Mel Lawrence, who just completed her UW career, was the Women's Freshman/Newcomer of the Year back in 2009. Hooker was twice named Pac-10 Track Athlete of the Year in 1998 and 2000, the only other UW athlete to win a conference postseason award.
Other award winners on the men's side were Bryshon Nellum of USC as Track Athlete of the Year, and Jordan Clarke of Arizona State as Field Athlete of the Year, with Robert Johnson of Oregon winning both men's and women's Coach of the Year honors. Kori Carter of Stanford was the Track Athlete of the Year on the women's side, Brigetta Barrett of Arizona won Field Athlete of the Year, and Jenna Prandini of Oregon was Freshman/Newcomer of the Year.