Jan. 18, 2018
THE FLATS — Amazing is becoming more and more normal for Jeanine Williams.
The junior from Kingston, Jamaica, and Auburn transfer prior to 2017, was named ACC Co-Performer of the Week following last weekend’s Commodore Invitational in Nashville, Tenn.
“I actually was surprised I didn’t think I could achieve that accomplishment, really. It was pretty special,” Williams said. “I really just went out there to have fun. There was some good competition there from my teammates so I went out there as I do in practice usually and it turned out to be an amazing weekend.”
As part of that amazing weekend, Williams ran a pair of personal bests — 8.18 in the 60-meter high hurdles then 7.48 in the 60. The former not only won the event, it ranked as the third-fastest time in the country this year, while the second was good for a second-place finish in the event.
Perhaps as amazing was that she ran her four races in a span of around 90 minutes.
“Usually the 60 opens right after the 60 hurdles in each track meet we have,” she said. “To me it’s an advantage because you don’t have to rest and then get warmed again. So after you do the hurdles you’re pretty much already warmed up. Your body’s already ready so you can go straight to the 60, then run the 60 and then get like an hour break before you have the finals, which are usually back-to-back as usual.”
Of course, her usual isn’t necessarily the norm. Take last year’s ACC Indoor Championships, where she showed up looking anything BUT ready to compete.
“I was still on crutches and in a boot,” recalled Williams, who was still battling toe and ankle injuries. “I told myself ‘I really don’t have anything to lose so I’m going to go out there and run and whatever happens, happens.’”
What happened was Williams ran 8.30 in the 60 hurdles, the second-fastest time all season for a Georgia Tech runner – 2/10ths of a second behind senior Kenya Collins, who ran the fastest time the same day.
Williams continued to roll in the spring, again finishing at the top for GT women — running 11.84 in the 100 meters and a career-best 12.99 in the 100 high hurdles, which came at ACCs. She qualified for the NCAA Championship East Preliminaries, where she ran 13:09, the fourth-best time of the day, to advance to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore.
But the end of Nationals wasn’t the end of her year, as she competed in the World Championship trials for the Jamaican National Team. Then, after a couple of weeks off, she returned to Atlanta and got back to work with Coach Nat Page.
“I tried to focus more on lifting and getting my knees up because that was an issue for me last season,” said Williams, who was as outstanding in the classroom, as the Biochemistry major was one of four Yellow Jackets named to the All-ACC Academic team. “I think that has helped me a lot this season.”
The work paid off at the Commodore Invitational and she’s counting on it continuing to next weekend at Clemson in the Bob Pollock Invitational. She sees being Co-ACC Performer of the Week is something of a mixed bag.
“It’s exciting but it’s also a little bit scary because everybody has their eyes on you now,” she said. “So if you go there and you don’t perform like you used to, it’s like, ‘Oh, maybe she’s just a one-time performer.’ But I’m really excited because I have a chance of running faster and moving up higher on the Nationals list.
“Before I guess you could say I was an underdog. Nobody really knew my name,” she added. “So it kind of helps a lot.”
She also has Page’s influence.
“He has helped me a lot with my confidence. When I came here from Auburn I was not confident in my hurdling,” she said. “He’s definitely a great coach. His technique and how he coaches us has helped us a lot, especially in hurdles.”
Williams can see a difference and is continuing to set the bar higher, especially now that she’s healthy.
“My confidence definitely has grown since last year, especially with how the indoor has been so far,” she said. “It can be bigger than it is now because I still have a little doubt sometimes, which I think, to me is normal. But my confidence will grow, especially since my plan is to go pro after my college years have ended.
“Opening up this season with 8:20 and running 8:18 last weekend, shows me that I can go faster now that I’m much more healthy than I was last year,” she added. “It really is exciting to see where I can go from here and what times I can run after this past weekend.”