Big 12 Campus Correspondent
For Brandin Williams, the journey to Boulder would have to fall under the road less traveled category. Williams, who grew up primarily as a football and baseball standout, didn’t get involved with track and field until an unusual set of circumstances forced his hand.
“In high school, I mainly played football and baseball, but I didn’t end up signing a football scholarship with anyone because of an injury my senior year,” Williams explained. “After that I went to play football at a junior college. I decided to go out for track to help me stay in shape.
“During the track season I started to throw the javelin and eventually I took second at the California state meet. After that I talked to (assistant coach) Casey (Malone) and ended up getting a scholarship to come to Colorado,” Williams noted.
Malone has played a huge role, both in bringing Williams to CU and in his improvement from a junior college prospect into one of the premier javelin throwers in the Big 12 Conference. Malone is a former NCAA Champion (1998-discus), a four-time All-American (1996-98 and 2000) and a two-time Olympian (2004 and 2008). His accomplishments speak for themselves.
According to Williams, Malone’s dedication to excellence is absorbed by his throwers because of his dedication and preparation as a coach is just as thorough as it is when he is a competitor. Williams said Coach Malone is always looking for new ways for his throwers to improve.
“The biggest thing with Coach Malone is probably his experience and the experiences he’s had,” Williams said. “He’s gone around the world and competed against the best throwers in the world. Casey talks to the other athletes and finds out things that will help us out. He studies as if it’s him competing; he’s always finding new ways for us to better ourselves. He’s great because he really works with us, through class conflicts and little injuries and everything. His goal is always to do what he can to help us get better.”
During last year’s Big 12 Outdoor Track & Field Championships hosted by CU, Williams peaked at just the right time. The men had a very experienced team that had their sights set on a first Big 12 championship, and their first outdoor conference track & field championship since 1947 when they won eight-consecutive Mountain States Conference Championships.
“I’m just glad that we had so many seniors on our team last year,” Williams said. “A lot of them were on the cross country team and they had won that Big 12 title, but that was kind of expected. When it came to outdoor track season they would always do well but the team would finish in the middle of the pack, so it was nice to be able to contribute to the team and help them win something that is not normally in the picture.”
Williams was expected to do well at the meet, but he went above and beyond as he stepped up for injured javelin teammate Kevin Fasing. He topped his previous personal best (198’-09”) by over ten feet marking a throw of 210’-04”, leading to a third place finish and helping the team to their first outdoor championship. After the javelin awards ceremony, Williams gave his third place medal to Fasing.
“For me, the competition is the biggest thing. It doesn’t really matter what they give you after, it’s nice but you don’t need a medal to show you what you accomplished. You know what you did, the awards are nice, but you don’t need it to remind you of what you accomplished,” he reflected. “One of the reasons that I did it was because I know that if Kevin was able to compete that he would have earned a medal too, so I wanted to give him a medal.”
With Fasing redshirting this season and last year’s senior standout James Begley graduating, Williams is the only returning throwing point scorer from last season. That means that Williams has been thrust into a leadership role among the throwers this season, a role that he embraces. He knows how much the advice and support from older throwers can mean to the development of the younger athletes.
“I guess I’m an old guy now (laughs), even though I’m only a junior and it’s only my third season participating in track,” Williams explained. “We do have a lot of freshman though, with only a handful of returning throwers. I try to lead by example, I don’t say too much but I’m always happy to answer any questions that I can for the younger guys. I’ve always been able to just come out and do my thing and ask the older guys questions, so I’m happy to be able to be on the other side of it and help the younger guys when I can.”
With his rapid ascent up the javelin hierarchy these last couple years, Williams wants to keep improving at a consistent rate. Williams already holds the eighth-best throw in CU history, and the second best since 1965. He now has his sights on moving up the list and making it to nationals.
“Last year during the Big 12 Championships, I lost by 99 centimeters, so coming up on the other end of that stick would be nice,” Williams said. “I qualified and went to regionals last year, so hopefully I can make it to nationals this year.”
As far as the team goals are concerned, Williams said that it’s the status quo and that the team’s primary goal is to successfully defend their Big 12 championship.
“For the throwers, we have a lot of young talent,” he said. “I think we have guys who can score for us, but for that matter we have a lot of freshman throughout the team who have the ability to score. I’m not sure how the other teams in the Big 12 are looking, but we remember last year, so another Big 12 title is always the goal.”
Williams’ natural abilities in the event are evident. With two years of eligibility remaining, Williams has his sights set high as he continues to make his mark in Colorado history.