For this week's MileSplit Mississippi Senior Sendoff, we are sending off the middle-distance ace from Senatobia High School, Brandon Williams, who will be bringing his talents to Mississippi College in the Fall!
Once Williams arrives in Clinton in the Fall, he will dabble in cross country, but will mainly focus on the 400m and 800m, including the 400mH, for the majority of his season.
Williams is coming off of the track season of his life, putting down PRs such as 49.66 in the 400m and 1:57.61 in the 800m, ranking inside of the top seven for both events. He took the Mississippi middle distance running scene by storm at the 2022 Woody Barnett Invitational, whenever he took Sidney Stegall, debatably the best distance runner in the state, to the line, placing second to Stegall by less than one-tenth of a second.
Williams will fit right in with the Choctaws, who had 400m and 800m squads that placed inside of the Top 10 in the country.
Mississippi College is coming off two consecutive All-American finishes in the 4x400m at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships, placing eighth in 2021 and seventh in 2022. At their home meet during 2022 season, Mississippi College ran 3:08.33, which averages out to be 47.08 seconds per 400m for runner on the relay.
In the 800m, Mississippi College had the fifth-best 800m squad in the country, with an event squad ranking time (the average of a team's top four performers in an event) of 1:51.41. Rising Sophomore Wesley Gibbs was the top performer for the Choctaws, who had a total of six athletes run under 1:54 for the event.
Once Williams is enrolled in the Fall, he will focus on getting a degree in Business Administration.
We asked Williams some questions and insight in regards to his high school career, what he loves about running, and some advice that he would leave behind to all of the track and field athletes that are still on their journey.
Check them out below!
Q: Explain your 'running journey'... (How did you get into running, how did your senior season go, and how did you get connected with the college that you are going to?)
A: I have run cross country since I was in the 7th grade. However, I have always been an average xc runner. When I got to high school, running track never sounded fun to me. Instead, I was the high school baseball manager. My current high school coach, Shane Baltz, had to constantly urge me to run track. Little did I know that I would fall in love with the sport. Coming into my senior season of track, I was a 51s 400 runner and a 2:08 800m runner. I had to tell myself, "this is your year." I started out the season weak and no big progress running 50s in the 400 and 2:06ish in the 800. Two weeks before district we had back-to-back meets on Thursday and Saturday. That Thursday, I was feeling good and won the 400 and 800 but still hadn't broken 2 minutes, sitting right at 2:02. That Saturday, me and my coach decided it would be best to just run the 800 and go for a PR. And it worked. That was my first time running 2:00 in the 800m dash and it got me invited to the George Kersh 800m run.
When I got to the George Kersh meet, I knew the MC coach. This was my opportunity. I feel like I strategized this race very well and ended up getting a huge PR at 1:57. That was my fastest time of the season and helped me earn recognition by MC.
The rest of the season was tough. I ran 4 events every single meet. On April 29th, I got a podium finish in the 800, 3rd in the 4x2, 4th in the 4x4, and broke 50 in the 400m dash to, as a team, win the state championship.
Q: What is your most memorable meet/race and why?
A: The George Kersh 800 Meter Run. It got me a huge PR and is the only reason i am going to Mississippi College in the fall
Q: Out of all your high school achievements, which one means the most to you and why?
A: The 2021 4a XC State Championships. We were seeded 5th coming into the meet and we hadn't been great that year. However, that day we found something deep within our hearts and pulled off the upset against #1 Corinth and #2 Pontotoc to win the state championship.
Q: If you could go back and do it all over again, what would you change, if anything?
A: Not running so many events and working towards goals of 1 or 2 events.
Q: Who is somebody that you look up to/someone that helped you along your journey to get you where you are today?
A: My head coach, Shane Baltz, has been not only a coach but almost like a second dad. I text him almost every day and he has become almost a mentor to me.
Q: What will you miss the most?
A: The camaraderie. I don't know if any teams in the nation are as close to one another as Senatobia.
Q: What piece of advice would you give to the younger athletes that are just getting started on their journey?
Don't give up. I plateaued in the 400 and 800 for almost 2 years. If you constantly trust your training you will be just fine, IF you don't give up.