UC’s Williamson making a run for collegiate Purple and Gold
Posted: Monday, February 11, 2013 9:34 pm
Daniel Williamson is trading in his Purple and Gold for, well, Purple and Gold.
The letters on the uniform will change as the highly decorated cross country runner from Union City High School made his collegiate plans official Sunday afternoon by signing with Tennessee Tech.
“When I visited, I liked what they had to offer from a coaching standpoint, and I fit right in with the other runners,” Williamson said.
Williamson will run for head coach Tony Cox, who enters his ninth season at the helm of his alma mater this year. Cox ran for the Golden Eagles in 1979 and 1980.
“I think he’s put a lot of faith in me,” Williamson said of his new head coach. “He expects me to compete at a high level, and I’m ready for it.”
The heralded UC runner has certainly shown his ability to compete at a high level during his prep career.
Williamson capped off his Union City cross country tenure in style back in November, finishing 10th overall in his third consecutive state meet appearance. He timed a 17:30.21 following a run of 17:07 to win the Region 7A-AA meet. He ran a 17:00.32 in the 2011 state meet, finishing 11th overall.
Those high finishes earned him All-State honors as a junior and senior.
During the regular season as a senior, he was regularly at the top of the group in the area meets and also placed seventh out of 322 runners in the prestigious Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic, posting a time of 16:45.
Williamson’s running portfolio doesn’t stop at local, regional and state meets either.
In the summer of 2011, he joined a group of Obion County Central runners to compete in the Queensland 5K Challenge and the Down Under All-American Championship in Australia. He placed 20th out of 3,000 runners in the Queensland run and was sixth out of 100 runners in the All-American.
“Getting the chance to run at the state level opened my eyes to a type of running that I wasn’t ready for my first year,” Williamson said. “It helped me learn what I needed to know and needed to do to compete at that level. In Australia, running against 3,000 people in one race was overwhelming at first, but the only way to get better is to run against better competition. So, I think running in the state meets and internationally has made me a better runner.”
Williamson credited both his UC coaches and the Central staff for making him college-ready. Eddie Suiter started the program in Williamson’s senior year and helped with training, while John Parr took over this past season and was helpful in the recruiting process. At Central, Pam Daniel was instrumental throughout Williamson’s four years and served as his coach in Australia. Chuck Parks, meanwhile, brought in a regimen that Williamson used his final two years to dramatically lower his times, while becoming attractive to college programs.
Williamson will try to help the Tech program make history within the OVC during his upcoming four-year stint.
The Golden Eagles have never won either a team or individual conference championship. Tech has finished seventh the last three years and placed 24th in the NCAA regional meet last season.
The OVC has been dominated by Eastern Kentucky in recent years as the Colonels own the last seven conference titles.
Just being part of a team will be new and exciting for Williamson, who has gone solo at UC.
“I’m really looking forward to running on a team,” he said. “(Running individually) has been miserable at times, and at other times I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve always wanted, at the end of a meet, to get back on a bus with my team.”
Published in The Messenger 2.11.13