Rhianna Williams may not have the best dance moves but that doesn’t mean she won’t be busting any moves on her way to some lofty goals when the Class 5A State Track and Field Championships roll around.
Williams, who won the 400-meter dash at last year’s state championships, is also a four-time state champion swimmer for Fossil Ridge High School. Despite her athletic prowess, Williams admits to being needled about her dance moves when she and teammates attempt to cut the rug during warmups.
“(Coach Pat) Williams (no relation) says I’m the most unathletic athletic person,” Rhianna said. “I don’t have any rhythm, so I can definitely see that.”
It has been hard for Rhianna and her Fossil Ridge teammates to find any rhythm this season for a variety of reasons.
They’ve dealt with injuries.
Rhianna suffered a strained right quadriceps while getting in some extra workouts during spring break. Teammate Koree Willer tweaked an ankle playing soccer, and Grace Cutler has been out as well.
“We still haven’t run our best 4×400 team yet,” Pat said. “I guess that’s just the way it goes.”
Rhianna’s injury is of particular concern because of the high aspirations she and Pat have for her. She wants to break the state record in the 400, Pat said. The record of 53.71 seconds was set in 1993 by Denver South’s Cynthia Newsome. Though Rhianna has been close, winning the state title last season with her personal best of 55.36, she hasn’t clocked a time faster since.
They’ve dealt with snow.
Record snowfall in April has put the spring sports season in flux. Nowhere is that more apparent than on the track, where athletes should be reaching midseason form by now. Instead, the recent weather has coaches like Pat begging for clear weather as the conference meet is three weeks away.
“Any normal season, we’d have (Rhianna) rehabbed back — she’d be back right now at around 95 percent,” Pat said. “We’re really going to come down to taking one big shot — that’s conference and state.”
For her part, Rhianna said she’s ready for that shot. She and the SaberCats will be in Lawrence, Kan., for the Jayhawk Relays on Friday and Saturday to face some stiff competition, and Rhianna said she’s feeling better all of the time.
Pat thinks Kansas will help. Since the quad injury, he said the team has been careful with Rhianna. They pulled her out of the 200 meter and urged her to start slowly in the 400 to reduce any chance of reaggravating the injury. Despite the slow starts, Rhianna hasn’t lost a race.
“All of her times this year, she’s been alone,” Pat said. “So it will be nice to actually have her in a race. From swimming, she’s got a little bit of that racehorse mentality. Sometimes you’ve just got to let the racehorse go.”
That’s something Rhianna said she’s looking forward to. She said she knows she doesn’t have the fastest time in the state this year. That belongs to Regis Jesuit’s Ana Holland, who recorded a blistering 54.11.
“I saw that (Holland’s time),” Rhianna said. “I’m excited to race them. I’m not too worried about it. My problem is, sometimes I get out a little slower, so it may push me to go out faster.”
Will she be fast enough to capture the state record and defend her 400 crown?
“Oh yeah,” Pat said. “If we can get three solid weeks without interference — with her ability — she can get there. She can get 53.5 (seconds).”
Topping the 20-year-old state mark by 0.2 seconds? Now that would be a reason to boogie.