Runner Has One More Goal : Mountain View's Tracey Williams Has Honors Galore but State CIF Title Has Eluded Her; This Could Be Her Winning Weekend

Times Staff Writer

At age 15, Tracey Williams has an impressive list of accomplishments as a distance runner.

The 5-9 junior from Mountain View High in El Monte has won CIF Southern Section divisional and Masters Meet championships in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, not to mention her two Southern Section divisional titles in cross country.

But there is one major prep championship that has eluded her: a CIF state title.

Not that she hasn't come close; at last year's state meet she finished second in the 3,200 meters.

Williams will have another opportunity when she competes in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters at the CIF state meet Friday and Saturday at Hughes Stadium in Sacramento.

"This year it feels like I'm peaking at the right time," she said. "Some years I don't. But this year my times have been going down."

Williams has seen improvement in both events the last two weeks in the CIF divisional and Masters meets. She improved from 4:56.8 to 4:53.01 to qualify second in the 1,600 and from 10:33.01 (3-A Division record) to 10:32.20 to qualify first in the 3,200.

That should place her in strong contention in both events, although winning both figures to be difficult.

"If you look at the record book you'll see that not many runners try to double in those events, but Tracey wants to try," said James Wigton, girls track coach at Mountain View.

Wigton says Williams has her best chance of winning the 3,200. But after watching her run the last three years, Wigton is not about to sell her short.

"She is still improving at a time when a lot of girls tend to tail off," he said. "In girls track, a lot of runners are already developed by the time they are freshmen and sophomores and then slow down by their junior or senior year. That has not happened to Tracey."

With her slender build, Williams doesn't look strong. But she has long legs and a quick start.

"She's able to go out quick . . . and most people can't do that," Wigton said. "She usually sets a fast, hard pace that's difficult for people to keep up with.

"She doesn't have as good a kick as some of the better runners, but because of her long legs the difference is minimized over a longer distance."

Williams said she has been advised by coaches that she should pace herself more but prefers her running style. "I like to go out front and stay there. A lot of people say I should slow down and run with everybody else, but I like the way I run."

She has run that way for as long as she can remember.

"I started running with my father (Jim) about eight or nine years ago . . . because he was jogging and wanted company."

Williams caught on quickly and racked up a trail of successes in age-group events by the time she enrolled at Mountain View at age 13.

It did not take long for her to succeed in high school.

As a freshman, Williams won the CIF 2-A Division title in cross country and came back in track to win the 3-A title in the 3,200 meters and place sixth in the Masters meet. In her sophomore year, Williams won the 2-A cross-country title again and the 3-A track title in the 3,200 before finishing second at the state meet.

But Williams ran into problems shortly after the start of her junior cross-country season last September when she suffered a hip pointer that forced her to miss most of the year.

"It just came on gradually and when it got really bad I had to take a few months off. It really hurt me during the cross-country season. Early in the season I didn't run at all, but I came back to run in the CIF meet. I was just hoping to do well."

Even with a sore hip, Williams managed to finish third in the 2-A finals last November. She was in better condition a few weeks later when she qualified for the Kinney National Cross Country finals in San Diego and finished ninth. As a freshman she had finished 24th.

Williams said her improvement in the cross-country nationals parallels her overall progress as a distance runner.

"When I get to college I think I'll improve a lot more because of the coaches."

She has also grown three inches since she started at Mountain View. But Williams said her improvement is due more to work habits than physical attributes.

"I don't think height has anything to do with it. I think it depends on how seriously I take my running."

There is no disputing that Williams is a hard worker.

In a typical week she runs about 35 miles. That's up from the 21 she used to run. Williams usually trains for about an hour before school and two hours after school.

Then she goes to the Industry Hills Swim Club in Industry and trains with the team for another two hours. Williams, who specializes in freestyle distance races, has been swimming since age 6.

She enjoys swimming but not as much as running. "I probably like running better because I compete a lot more and get to go to a lot more places."

The running and swimming have made for a hectic schedule but have not stopped her from doing well in class.

Williams, who skipped the second grade because she was ahead of her classmates in math and reading, has a 4.0 grade-point average this year after posting a 3.8 average last year. She is also involved in student government, having been elected senior class president for next semester.

As a student and athlete Williams has accomplished just about every imaginable goal--except a state track title, which may not be far away.

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