Redshirt freshman has settled in at Ohio State and is on the run

by Drew Sullivan

Taylor Williams has made a name for himself one year into his Ohio State running career. And Williams is only one year removed from a time when he said he wouldn’t even have been in a scoring position on the cross-country team.

But as the seasons have changed at Ohio State, so has the mindset of the redshirt freshman.

“I was definitely thinking about doing really well this cross country season and it was kind of a goal for myself,” Williams said. “I think this turnout may be a little bit better than I expected in terms of fitness and everything, but it’s definitely within what I saw myself doing this season.”

William’s breakout year has been nothing short of spectacular. The Sycamore, Ohio, native has been the Buckeyes’ go-to runner through the Big Ten Championship meet this season, leading the team in all five out of the six races in which he has participated.

But Williams said he attributes his success to the speed he has developed over the course of last year, which has given him confidence to compete at the collegiate level. And the man behind the scenes who is making Williams a better runner is head coach Robert Gary.

“He’s a great coach and I have done some extremely hard workouts since I’ve been here,” Williams said. “And I think that just the quality of work that we do has maybe been the difference between high school and college so far for me.”

The quality of work that Williams has put in since he arrived at Ohio State was shown on the course this season. He won the Kent State Open in 18:53, finished fourth at the Purdue Invitational and placed 26th at the Big Ten Championships, just out of contention for All-Big Ten honors as a freshman.

Williams also paced the Buckeyes with a time of 25:01 to finish 25th at the Roy Griak Invitational the meet right before he ran his season-best 8K time of 24:24 to end up 44th at the Pre-NCAA Invitational meet.

Even though Williams has been running times he can’t complain about, his team’s performance so far this year hasn’t been as satisfying.

“It’s been pretty disappointing so far,” Williams said. “I think as a team we haven’t really achieved a lot of the things we wanted to and that we thought we could. But the season isn’t over yet.”

Ohio State has one, possibly two meets left to its 2008 season, and they will look to make the most of them. The Buckeyes will run for the NCAA Regional Championship Saturday, Nov. 15 in West Lafayette, Ind. If they qualify for the NCAA Championships, they will compete against the nation’s best Monday, Nov. 24 in Terre Haute, Ind.

Despite all the growing pains the young Buckeyes have had to fight their way through this season, Williams feels that this experience will only benefit himself and his teammates in the future.

“I think when it’s all said and done, it’ll be a good learning experience for the guys that ran this year,” Williams said. “For whatever reason, I think we have a little more respect for our goals and that should serve us well next year.”