Bunnell High senior Abby Williams.

Bunnell’s Williams making her own mark on the track

STRATFORD–After Bunnell High senior Abby Williams learned she had broken the school indoor track record in the long jump, she called two people she knew would appreciate it.

One was a two-time Olympian; the other just happened to be a defending world champion.

Williams, who moved to Stratford two years ago, is the younger sister of two Jamaican track and field stars—Shermaine Williams and Danielle Williams.

Shermaine Williams competed in the 2012 London Olympics and 2016 Rio games while Danielle Williams won the 100-meter hurdles at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing.

“Yeah, I told them,” Abby Williams said witih a grin. “They’re very happy. They’re proud.”

On Saturday morning at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Williams long jumped 17 feet, 6 inches to win the first SWC Developmental meet of the 2019 indoor season.

At the time, nobody knew it was a school record—but they knew it was literally a long jump.

After getting back to the school, indoor track coach Barb Poisson checked the record books and discovered Williams had bested the previous mark of 17-2, set in 2010 by former Bunnell standout Alisha Beeman.

“Her technique has come a long way,” Poisson said. “I can’t attribute it to anything else other than she’s working hard. I can see her jumping high 18s. Her speed is just incredible.”

And her blood lines are filled with talent, too.

Abby Williams and her mother moved to Stratford for her junior year and she ran outdoor track for the Bulldogs, too.

She ran the anchor leg of Bunnell’s 4×100 relay team, which finished third in Class MM, and also competed in the long jump.

She was seeded with a jump of 16-6½, but only jumped 15-11½, missing out on the finals.

As such, Saturday’s jump was a personal best by almost a foot.

“I haven’t been practicing,” Williams admitted. “I was hoping to jump 13-8 and qualify for SWCs. My first jump, I was 16 feet.”

Williams expected her next jump wouldn’t be the same.

“After my first jump, something always goes wrong,” she said.

She was partially right. Her second jump wasn’t the same as the first. It was four inches further.

“After that, I pushed myself a little more,” she said. “I warmed up, I stretched. I wanted to jump even further.”

She popped her 17-6 to set the standard for all SWCs jumper this winter. (Last winter, 16-3¼ won the league indoor championship).

“I knew it was a far jump,” Williams said. “I was happy. I was surprised. I felt good.”

Following in her sister’s spikes, Williams has competed in track and field since fourth grade, primarily as a 400-meter runner.

“I have a history in track and field, and I love track and field,” she said.

Coming to Connecticut, though, she found a vastly different culture than the one she left behind in her native country.

“It’s very hard and the competition is very hard,” she said of the country that produced her sisters and the now legendary Usain Bolt. “It’s so much different from up here. It’s complete different. Track and field is so important in Jamaica. Thousands of people go to track meets just to watch.”

After Williams arrived at Bunnell and introduced herself to the coaching staff, she told them about her family pedigree in the sport.

“She showed up and said she was from Jamaica and her sister was in the Olympics,” Poisson said. “We did some research and saw (Shermaine Williams) was a hurdler.”

The only problem was Abby Williams had little to no interest in taking up the hurdles.

Instead, she gravitated toward the long jump as a place to achieve some new-found success.

“Everybody wanted me to do hurdles—my dad, my coach in Jamaica,” she said. “Somehow, I just don’t know. It’s not my thing. I found my thing with the long jump.”

Poisson understood where Williams was coming from but has urged Williams to give the event a try while at Bunnell. She competed in the 55 hurdle race on Saturday, as well.

The long jump, however, is Williams’ event.

“I think she just wanted to make a mark of her own,” the coach said.

And now she’s done that, putting her name into a record book for the very first time.

It might be a much smaller golden moment than what her siblings are used to, but considering Abby Williams is approaching 18 feet in just her second season in the event is astounding.

“I want to go even further,” Williams said. “I can’t wait for the next meet to see what I can do next.”

Once she does that, she’ll no doubt call a two-time Olympian and a defending World Champion to share the news.

Shermaine and Danielle Williams after the 100m hurdles final at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing (Photo courtesy of iaaf.org)

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