MANCHESTER - When Chaz Williams arrived at New Britain High School as a junior last year, he showed up to his first track and field practice and came to an almost immediate conclusion - the team needed work in the hurdle events.
“Yeah, you could say that,” Williams laughed as he thought back to his initial observations as a member of the Hurricanes. “That year I wasn’t as open as I am now with the people at New Britain, but after indoor season that year is when I started opening up more and helping people.”
Williams’ new teammates at New Britain were wise to heed his advice, given Williams’ pedigree in hurdle events, which was on display again on Wednesday when the senior finished in first place in the 110-meter hurdles at the boys decathlon in Manchester. Williams, who also grabbed a state title in both hurdles events at this year’s Class LL state championships, brought plenty of winning experience to the Hurricanes, though it took him a while to realize the harm he was doing to his team by not sharing his wealth of knowledge.
“It takes a good athlete to be successful in an event, but it takes an even better athlete to share their knowledge with others and make them successful as well,” Williams said.
One of the athletes Williams took under his guidance was junior Raven-Symone Jarrett, who shined in Tuesday’s 100-meter hurdles event at the girls heptathlon (also in Manchester), finishing in first place while Williams cheered her on near the finish line. Jarrett went on to win the event entirely, helped along by that hurdles victory.
“That’s my hurdle bestie,” Jarrett said of Williams. “He likes to say he taught me how to hurdle. I’ll give him that. He’s like my coach.”
Jarrett had begun learning and practicing hurdle events last year, when Williams was still a shy junior who had yet to open up about the valuable insight he had to offer. This year, Williams approached Jarrett and began to help her through the 100 hurdles.
“And I started watching him and implementing what he did well into my own technique,” Jarrett said.
That strategy seems to have worked out for Jarrett, who competed at the New England Track and Field Championships in hurdles with Williams, who can’t help but feel a sense of pride every time he sees his pupil and friend separate herself from the pack, like she did on Tuesday afternoon.
“Raven has done amazing all year, going to New Englands with me for hurdles,” Williams said. “It’s a great accomplishment for her, and it’s a great accomplishment for me because I taught pretty much everyone at New Britain how to hurdle. I feel like we’re both doing great.”
Of course, the duo’s friendship is mutually beneficial, as Jarrett has become a source of motivation for Williams as well.
“If we’re doing races, we hold each other’s blocks and tell each other good luck,” Jarrett said. “When Chaz was in the State Open, I would tell him it’s our race, and we need to do this together. It’s my way of telling him he needs to step up.”
Williams did step up, finishing fourth overall in the 110 hurdles at the State Open, as Jarrett helped repay Williams for the help he provided her with the same event. Judging by how both have fared in hurdles events at the decathlon and heptathlon, both Hurricanes are likely pleased with what their dynamic has produced together.
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org