Each time Chaminade freshman Briana Williams extends another winning streak, she proves right the track pundits who tabbed her the next great high school sprinter.
However, when Shaun Shivers, Williams’ fellow state-title contending teammate competes, it’s to silence critics who wrote off the 5-5, 175 pound running back as too small to make it.
“Growing up everybody said I was too small but I knew what I could do,” said Shivers, an Auburn commit. “They said I wouldn’t have any offers. They said I wouldn’t be going Division I. That I’m too small. I don’t pay attention to all the critics. I just use it as motivation in whatever I do.”
Although motivation for Williams, 14, and Shivers couldn’t be more diametrically opposite, their alliance gives Chaminade one of the most exciting sprint tandems in Florida.
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No longer do conversations about Chaminade’s track program start and end with Shivers, a Class 2A state runner-up in the 100 and 200 last season. Adding another sprint star in Williams this year created unprecedented buzz around the Lions program.
“I want to win states for Chaminade so their name could be out there,” Williams said. “I want to make them known for track. I want to do my best. Make my name at a school that is known more for academics.”
Williams’ résumé speaks for itself. She is a four-time AAU junior Olympic champion in the 100 and 200, and three-time USATF Junior Olympic 100-meter champion. She also holds national AAU records in the 100 meters in the 10-year-old and 13-year-old age groups.
Williams is raring to go after missing most of last season with a hamstring injury at IMG Academy. Ato Boldon, the former Olympics star turned NBC track analyst who serves as her personal trainer, predicts Williams (with personal bests of 11.72 and 24.46 in the 100 and 200), will waste little time asserting herself on the high school level.
Last year Palatka’s Ka Tia Seymour swept the Class 2A sprint titles in 11.85 and 23.98.
“I expect Briana to be one of the fastest freshmen in the country,” said Boldon. “I have seen them come and go. But I have seen very few 14-years-olds with that strength. Briana weighs 120 pounds but can already squat 340 pounds. That is really, really special. I see no reason she can’t run 11.50 in the 100 this year.”
The belief is Williams, who will try out for the Jamaica National Carifta Games team in March, and Shivers gives Chaminade the star power to draw more talent to the program and hopefully turn the Lions into a state power.
To accelerate the process, Lions track coach Dameon Jones brought in Frankie Hammond, a highly respected former Hallandale assistant who was instrumental in developing individual state champions with the Chargers.
After rushing for 1,213 yards and 10 touchdowns in leading the Lions to the Class 3A state championship game but falling short, Shivers, a junior, would like to make amends with state gold in the sprints.
For that to happen, Shivers will mostly likely have to improve on his personal bests in the 100 (10.47) and 200 (21.13). His biggest challenge remains American Heritage junior Anthony Schwartz, who returns to defend both titles in the 100 and 200.
“I don’t really look at it like a rivalry with Schwartz,” Shivers said. “I don’t really look at it like that. I feel like this is a new year. Anybody can be beat. I just want to win states for the school. Having Briana on the team should be fun. I’ve seen her run a few times. She is real good. She always wins.”
ATHLETES TO WATCH
Northeast: Damion Thomas Jr., Tyree Simeon, Jordel Williams, Bradley Nelson. Douglas: Brandon Lynn, Da Quan Bailey Brown, Josh Raphael. Flanagan: Garrett Ricardo, Armani Jerez, Bjorn Atkinson. Westminster Academy: Patrick Sastre, Nick Rowe, Matthew Brown, Saahr Eduoard. Hallandale: Calvin Golson Jr., Peter Anderson, Milton Ingram, Colby Malcom Mitchell; Archbishop McCarthy: Marcus Mijares, Alejandro Plate, Will Shine; American Heritage: Anthony Schwartz, Marco Wilson, Patrick Surtain, Jason Hineskill;
Boyd Anderson: Devarens Valcin, Avery Thornton, Tard Smith, Sharod McBride; Coral Springs: Wavell Hinds, Khiro Hoilett, Ricardo Packer; Calvary Christian: Danny Ferro, Diego Fagot, Marcus Gross, Elijah Thompson; Everglades: Jamal Walton; Dillard: Cameron Leica, Lovensky Demelien, Tremaine Brown; Cardinal Gibbons: Jimmy Nut, Carlos Sandy, Vincent Davis; Blanche Ely: Djaymon Reid, Theostene Louis, Roger J. Wright, Sukeil Foucha.
Fort Lauderdale: James Dimarco, Eric Harrison, Kevin Alexis. St. Thomas Aquinas: Michael Harley, Jermanie Byrd, Nicholas Rischar, Ivan Donaher; Miramar: Brian Edwards; South Florida HEAT: Godday Hornsby; Pine Crest: Tony Bridges, Ron Knezevich, Carsen Coggeshall, Michael Cabral; Stranahan: Monte Parker; Coral Springs Christian: Peter Tsouroukdissian; Archbishop McCarthy: Marcus Mijares; Highlands Christian: Ryan Szklany.
Boyd Anderson: Jimeshia Lawson, Daishon Spann, Nikyia Wooten, Anitria Sangster; Hallandale: Keasha Bradley Macklin, Amani Heaven, Essence Cooper, Richara McNeil; Sagemont: Tiana Artis, Osianna Crespo; Archbishop McCarthy: Madi Malone, Monique Salcie; Pine Crest: Taylor Logue, Amanda Schwartz, Tsion Yared; Simone Vreeland; Flanagan: Devin D'Olivera, Maya Fabri, Jaydea Carter; Cardinal Gibbons: Kamri Roan, Krystal Deccico, Raven Kpoussa.
Blanche Ely: Trinity Petty, Rogena Ingleton, Ra'Kiria Davis, Tierrol Hines; Chaminade: Briana Williams; Pine Crest: Taylor Logue, Tsion Yared, Mahdere Yared, Simone Vreeland; Dillard: Tre'Keisha Ford, Rochelle Francois, Jada Bryan, Cadeebra Calcote; Douglas: Emilia Thom, Brianna Green, Diamond Clarke; Northeast: Jan'Taijah Ford, Daneisha Woodside, Carshayl Harrison, Takiyah Johnson; North Broward: Katie Pinnell.
Highlands Christian: Sara Carroll; St. Thomas Aquinas: Imani Christian, Erica Murphy, Zatoria Thompson; Calvary Christian: Karly Colford, Fay Maurency, Simone Eloi; Fort Lauderdale: Danisha Nicholas, Sasha Wilson, Kiyani Handberry; Westminster Academy: Jasmine Hincapie; Coral Springs: Sasheika Brown, Kaci Thomas, Theresa Frederick; American Heritage: Asia McMillon, Danielle Bess, Morgan Rhett.
TOP 10 GIRLS’ TEAMS
1. Northeast; 2. St. Thomas Aquinas; 3. Hallandale; 4. American Heritage; 5. Dillard; 6. Flanagan; 7. Boyd Anderson; 8. Pine Crest; 9. Blanche Ely; 10. Coconut Creek.
TOP 10 BOYS’ TEAMS
1. American Heritage; 2. St. Thomas Aquinas; 3. Hallandale; 4. Northeast; 5. Boyd Anderson; 6. Pine Crest; 7. Blanche Ely; 8. Miramar; 9. Cardinal Gibbons; 10. Coconut Creek.
Feb. 18: Westminster Academy Relays; Feb. 25: All Broward Catholic Conference Track Meet; Feb. 25: Ferguson Falcon Invite; Walter Dix Relays (Coral Springs); March 4: Hallandale Invitational; March 10: Calvary Christian Invitational; March 10-11: City Of Miramar Invitational (Ansin Sports Complex); March 11: Cardinal Gibbons Field Open; March 11: Dade Christian Crusader Invitational; March 18: Bob Hayes Invitational (Jacksonville); Westminster Academy Invitational; March 20: BCAA North Central Qualifier (Boyd Anderson); BCAA South Central Qualifier (South Plantation); March 21: BCAA North Qualifier (Blanche Ely); BCAA South Qualifier (Hallandale); March 24: BCAA Championships (Dillard); March 24-25: FSU Relays; March 25: Miramar Relays (Ansin Sports Complex); March 29-April 2: Texas Relays; March 30-April 1: Florida Relays (University of Florida); April 5: Fort Lauderdale City Championships; April 10 -13: District championships: April 17-22: District championships; April 24 -29: Regional championships; May 5-6: FHSAA State Finals (IMG Academy Stadium)
LAST YEAR’S STATE CHAMPS
Girls - 4A - Lakewood Ranch; 3A - Miami Northwestern; 2A - Jacksonville Bolles; 1A - Oak Hall School; Boys - 4A - Lyman; 3A - Chiles; 2A - American Heritage; 1A - Admiral Farragut.