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Auburn Reporter Female Prep Athlete of the Year Brandi Williams
It was an up-and-down year for Auburn Riverside's Brandi Williams.
Coming into her final high school track and field season as the defending Washington State 4A long jump champ, the Raven senior knew everyone would be gunning for her.
"This year was definitely hard," Williams said. "Everybody came in just wanting to beat me. And I was training really hard to stay on top."
Despite her hard work on the track, however, Williams fell shy of completing a three-peat as state long jump champ, taking home a third-place finish with a 19 feet, .25 inch jump at the state track meet in May, behind Garfield's Baileh Simms (19-08.00) and AJ teammate Kennadi Bouyer (19-06.75)
"I was upset," Williams said. "After my last jump I just couldn't believe it. I just started crying. I was kind of happy to compete with the people that I did, but I was still a little upset."
Weeks later, it's all in the past for Williams, concentrating on her final high school track and field meet – the Track City Classic in Eugene, Ore. on July 13-14 – before she heads off to compete at the collegiate level for Boise State.
"I still have a meet coming up, and I know I can redeem myself there," Williams said. "I know what I can do. I know I can still PR and be on the top again."
It is Williams' strength in adversity and her drive to continue to improve in her sport that has earned her the honor of being named Auburn Reporter Female Athlete of the Year.
Williams' athletic career started in third grade.
"Gymnastics was first," she said. "I started with Auburn Gymnastics. I started track after I quit gymnastics because I had broken my arm."
Track was a natural fit for Williams. Her parents, Chris and Valetta Williams, were once track athletes.
"My parents were involved as kids, so they could coach me," Williams said. "My mom ran the 400 and relay events, and my dad did field events, the heavy throwing events."
Initially, Williams ran at various youth events unattached before joining the Flying Ajs club team in middle school.
"I competed with them for a couple years, then quit," she said. "Then I came back to the AJs. I just missed training with a team. It's much more fun than just training alone."
By the time Williams hit Auburn Riverside, the dual coaching from the Flying AJs and her parents was beginning to pay off.
As a freshman she finished sixth in state at the long jump with a 17-1.50 and was 14th in the 100-meter run with a 13.33 second time.
As a sophomore, however, it all came together for Williams, leaping to a Washington State 4A long jump title with an 18-1.50 mark.
"I definitely didn't expect to win the state title," Williams said. "I was training hard but I didn't think that would be the outcome. I was really happy with what I did. It was just a shock and a surprise. After the last jump, I went over and hugged my dad, and we just started tearing up. It was just a happy time."
The unexpected title gave Williams a boost of confidence as she came into her junior year.
"My junior year I figured I would be able to win it again," she said.
And she did. Not only did Williams snag the long jump title with a 19-6.50 but she also placed second in the 100 with a 12.11 and third in the 200 with a 25.13.
"I think my highlight was winning state in my junior year," Williams said. "Junior year was so much fun with all the people on the team."
This past season, in addition to her third-place in the long jump, Williams also captured second in the 200 with a 25.20 and third in the 100 with a 12.22 at the state meet.
Now it's time for Williams to move on and start preparing for her collegiate career at Boise State.
"I'm excited but so nervous about it," Williams said. "I've talked to my coach a couple times, but he may not be there anymore."
According to Williams, Broncos assistant and jumps coach Jeff Petersmeyer who recruited her may not be around for the fall season.
"I was really excited about working with him because he's taken athletes to the Olympics, too, and that's what I wanted to do," she said. "I'm really hoping that he will stay."
Away from the track, Williams said, she is looking forward to working towards a business degree.
"I want to have my own bakery," Williams said. "I bake a lot, which I know is weird because I have to be on this diet for track."
Looking back now, a week after graduation, Williams said she's pleased with her high school career.
"I think I feel pretty good about all my years there," she said.