Kendell Williams has won 11 state titles and nine national championships, but today the Kell (Marietta, Ga.) multi-event standout got her hands on the trophy she’s coveted her entire prep track career. Williams was named the 2012-13 Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year.
“This is the one I wanted all these years,” said Williams, a Georgia signee. “I kept telling my parents: I want the big one, I want the big one. Now that I’m holding it, I just can’t believe it. This thing is huge. To have my name on this trophy along with names like (London Olympics gold medalists) Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards, it’s overwhelming.”
The 5-foot-9 senior won a national title in the heptathlon at the USA Junior Outdoor Championships and clocked the nation’s No. 1 time in the 100-meter high hurdles among prep competitors in 2013. She is the first prep girl in history to run sub-13.3 in the 100-meter high hurdles, clear six-plus feet in the high jump and leap 20-plus feet in the long jump. Williams owns the national high school record in the pentathlon at the New Balance Indoor Nationals, and broke the U.S. prep record in the heptathlon at last summer’s World Junior Championships.
The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence as well as high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the oval. Williams is now a finalist for the Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year award. USA TODAY High School Sports administrates the nationwide selection process in collaboration with Gatorade.
“Kendell has had an outstanding year,” said Steve Underwood, DyeStat.com Editor. “She became the country’s best 100-meter hurdler and maintained her status as the nation’s best multi-eventer, including being one of the very best in the high jump and long jump. She’s the national prep record-holder in both the outdoor heptathlon and indoor pentathlon. Kendell is truly one of a kind.”
One of only seven girls in the award’s 28-year history to win Gatorade State Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year honors four times, Williams owns three of the top six heptathlon point totals in American prep history and has never lost an outdoor 100 hurdles race on American soil. She won three individual Class 4A state championships this spring, leading the Longhorns to a second-place finish as a team.
At the Georgia Outdoor State Championships this spring, Williams broke the tape in the 100 hurdles with a time of 13.23 seconds, cleared 5 feet, 8 inches to win the high jump and leapt 20-9.75 to capture the long jump. She produced the No. 2 long jump in 2013 among prep competitors and the No. 27 high jump clearance. Her career-best hurdles time ranks No. 8 in U.S. high school history and her best long jump ranks No. 30. She also won the 100 hurdles at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor in 2012.
Williams has maintained a weighted 3.75 GPA in the classroom. She has volunteered locally on behalf of the Kell’s Angels service club and Cobb County orphans. A participant in the Shop with a Longhorn holiday event for underprivileged youth and a member of her school’s Senior Spirit Group, Williams manages the Kell boys basketball team and donates her time as a youth track and field coach. She was the Kell Community Service Award winner in 2013.
Williams becomes the first track athlete from Georgia to win national Gatorade honors. Other national winners from Georgia include basketball superstars Dwight Howard (2003-04) and Maya Moore (2006-07) as well as Loganville (Loganville, Ga.) slugger and 2012-13 National Baseball Player of the Year Clint Frazier, who was drafted fifth overall by the Cleveland Indians earlier this month.
California has produced the most national winners in the award program’s 28-year history with 60 followed by Texas (27), Florida (20) and Illinois (15).