WINSTON-SALEM - In his first season as the North Carolina A&T director of track and field programs, Duane Ross needed his athletes to buy in to what he wanted to do with the program. He found more than what he was bargaining for in redshirt senior Darryl Williams.
On Friday at the Hilton Garden Invitational held at the JDL Fast Track indoor track and field facility, Williams recorded another personal best in the 60 meters in what was an impressive performance on the first day of the event. Williams placed first in the 60 meters with a 6.75. He also had the top qualifying time on the day at 6.81.
The Aggies also had two other first-place winners on the day. Sophomore Keenan Smith won the triple jump after he jumped 49-feet, 9-inches to pick up his second first-place win of the season. Smith won the triple jump at the Virginia Tech Invitational two weeks ago, and was named MEAC Male Field Athlete of the Week for his efforts.
"We knew coming in Keenan was going to jump well because he had a great week of practice," said Ross. "He's another young man who works hard. You know, the thing I've discovered about this team is we have a lot of young men and women who are willing to work hard.
Junior Roshel Bygraves was the top representative for the ladies. She placed first in the 400 meters in 56.23. But it is Williams who is leading the way for both teams.
"Change is difficult," said Ross. "I know it was difficult on the kids when I came in because for them they were getting yet another new coach. Darryl was one of those young men who got on board immediately. That is why he is the team leader, and that is why he is doing such a great job."
As Williams entered his last season at A&T, he informed Ross he was willing to do what it takes to make the program successful in that short period of time. Williams has been instrumental in being a host for track and field recruits. He has done well in the classroom, and over the past two weeks he has put together the best two indoor performances of his career.
"I know I didn't recruit him, but he is the guy I'm building this program around," said Ross. "He is the rock. He is the person I want our freshmen and recruits to model themselves after."
Ross wants Williams running below 6.7 by the time the MEAC Indoor Track and Field Championships arrive Feb. 14-16. Williams was not alone on Friday. Teammate and Torrance Womack finished second in the 60 meter final in 6.81.
The Aggies are back in action Saturday at the JDL Fast Track. The first running and field event starts at 10 a.m.