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Oklahoma Student Athlete Spotlight: Kevin Williams
May 08, 2012
By Will Estel
Big 12 Campus Correspondent

Kevin Williams is a distance runner at the University of Oklahoma. One look at him and you see the typical student-athlete. However, spend a few moments talking to him, and prepare to have your mind blown.

Williams has a knack for remembering bizarre and otherwise useless information.

"I remember random facts," Williams said, "and I feel the need to tell everyone them, all the time."

It all started with a comment here and there, just to give his teammates something to talk about on long runs.

"We talk about a lot of weird stuff on our runs," he said. "If you're going to be with people for two hours, you have to have something to keep it interesting."

For example, who knew, "there is less than a gallon of water in a cubic acre of fog?"

Williams did. It is just one of the many fun facts floating around in his head.

"After I said that, they all started making fun of me," he said. "Now, whenever I start doing it, they make fun of me. It's all just fun though."

Sometimes his friends and teammates enjoy testing his knowledge.

Chris Sweeney ran at OU and lived with Williams for two years.

"We used to come up with random trivia and pull up random music videos," Sweeney recalled of his days running at OU. "He would know exactly what it was, no matter how small the band is or non-mainstream it is. A vault of useless information is the perfect way to describe it. Anything you want to know about any topic, he will know it."

Williams' current roommate and teammate, Ryan Poland, describes him as a very interesting guy.

"He is a wealth of useless information. He watches a lot of weird TV shows, which I think is the source of his useless information, just unbelievable facts about animals. He's really into geography. He has a world map in his room. He just loves it."

Poland's fondest memory of Williams was in a team debate over which country owned the Galapagos Islands.

Williams immediately blurted out Ecuador, but his team laughed and called his bluff.

"We were like, ‘you don't know that. Nobody knows that,'" Poland said. "Then someone whipped out their phone and looked it up. He was right."

Williams just smiled.

"I knew it was Ecuador," he said. "I don't know why."

Although he admits he knows more than he should, Williams does not have a true reason for it. He thinks it has to do with his interest in educational television.

"I remember things I watch on TV," he said. "They give me a hard time for watching educational shows, Animal Planet and Discovery Channel."

His favorite shows are the Discovery Channel hits "Cash Cab" and "River Monsters", two entirely different genres of television, but each with an unlimited number of trivial information.

Perhaps Williams' ability to remember such things should not come as much of a surprise. Distance runners carry the stereotype of being very intelligent, something proven at Oklahoma.

"Cross country has one of the highest GPAs on campus," Williams said," and the distance program and track in general do really well too. I guess it goes with the territory of distance running. If you're going to do that, you're going to do well in other things."

As fun and entertaining as Williams is, he is well respected amongst his teammates for his work ethic and other attributes.

"He's really tough," his roommate said. "He is one of the tougher guys on the team. He never gets hurt, runs smart and runs well."

Sweeney, now the assistant director of operations for the track and field team, said he looked up to Williams as an athlete in and out of practice.

"He's one of the most driven, motivated guys I've ever seen," Sweeney said. "It was easy to stick to my training when I lived with him. He is younger, but was my role model and helped me get a lot more out of my training."

Williams' hard work continues to pay off. He has seen a steady progression in his times, most recently at the Payton Jordan Invitational. Williams set a personal record with a time of 13 minutes, 39:87 seconds.

He claimed to not necessarily be amongst the fastest runners at the event, but says it was a tactical advantage that lifted him to a second-place finish.

"There were a lot of guys at Stanford that could have ran faster," he said, "but the race got tactical in the middle. The top-three guys, none of us led until the last lap. We were the most patient."

This use of tactic in running will continue to reward Williams for the remainder of his collegiate career.

As his senior season approaches, Williams continues to show increased smarts on and off the track. Whether his street smarts or track smarts carry him further in live has yet to be decided.

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