EUGENE, Ore. – Kendal Williams delivered the United States its first gold medal of the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships with a stunning wire-to-wire romp to the 100-meter dash title Wednesday night at Historic Hayward Field.
Completing his sweep through three rounds of competition, Williams laid down a career-best time of 10.21 into a -0.6 headwind, dispatching World Junior record-holder, NCAA champion and USA teammate Trayvon Bromell in the process.
“It’s a huge win for Kendal, the State of Florida and the Seminoles,” said Florida State coach Bob Braman. “What a day!”
Williams, who is already enrolled as a freshman at Florida State, took command from the start in the final and was in front of the entire field just three strides out of the blocks. The Jacksonville, Fla. native and Stanton Prep graduate appeared oblivious to Bromell’s late charge as he ran through the finish line to become the first in a long line of Seminole sprint greats to win a World Junior title in the 100.
“I was pretty confident,” Williams told the media afterward. “The main part was staying patient. When I stood up and was right next to Trayvon, it was crazy. It’s the best race I’ve had in my life. Execution was priority number one. Number two was mentally staying in the race. I had to focus on what I had to do, not on anyone else. “I’ve been waiting all year for my time to shine, and it finally came tonight.”
“What a great race,” FSU sprints and associate head coach Ken Harnden said. “He stayed with the game plan and didn’t panic…He’s come a long way in a short amount of time. What a performance!”
Another FSU teammate, rising sophomore Cejhae Greene, was unable to duplicate the flawless starts which produced a pair of heat wins and finished fifth in the final (10.43).
Earlier in the day, Williams (10.49) and Greene (10.39) automatically qualified for the final by winning their semifinal heats under cool and rainy conditions.
That rain gave way to cooler evening temperatures and a strong headwind, which prevailed throughout the women’s long jump final. Incoming FSU freshman Jogaile Petrokaite, representing Lithuania, was undeterred by the conditions and the picture of consistency throughout the competition. Earning three additional jumps with an opening mark of 6.11m (20-0.5), Petrokaite was the only competitor to improve after the field of 12 was cut to eight. Producing a leap of 6.13 (20-1.50) on her fourth attempt, she placed fourth overall.
“That was a really great job by Jogaile,” Braman said. “She competed really well under challenging conditions and on the biggest stage. Fourth in the World isn’t bad at all.”
Williams will return to the track Thursday, when he joins fellow incoming FSU freshman and top-ranked Trentavis Friday in the 200-meter dash. The two will compete in the preliminary rounds, which are set to begin at 1:45 p.m. (ET), with the semifinal rounds following at 9:40 p.m.
Friday, the US Junior champion who boasts a world junior leading time of 20.33 this season, has drawn lane 5 in the third heat. Williams, the runner-up to Friday at the US Junior meet in 20.55, will race out of lane 4 in the eighth of nine heats. The top two finishers in each heat plus the next six fastest times will advance to the semifinal.
Live streaming of the competition can be found at www.USATF.tv and www.UniversalSports.com.
Live results will be posted at http://www.iaaf.org/competitions/iaaf-world-junior-championships/iaaf-world-junior-championships-2014-4954/timetable/byday and you can also monitor the progress of the Seminoles throughout the meet via Twitter @FSU_Track.