Middle Country athlete hopes to take talent to states

Middle Country athlete hopes to take talent to states

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Middle Country's Denzel Williams sprints to the finish line during a meet earlier this season. File photo by Bill Landon

By Clayton Collier

Middle Country track standout Denzel Williams had an admirable performance at the divisional meets at Comsewogue this past weekend, taking second and third in the 200- and 100-meter events, respectively.
Most students would be thrilled to have finished with such marks, but Williams considered it a bad day at the office.

“I’m not really satisfied,” he said. “I definitely think I could have gotten first. It was just an off day and hopefully, come state qualifiers, I think I can and I should place first in my events. Definitely in the 200.”

The All-League junior will head to state qualifiers at Port Jefferson High School this upcoming weekend, looking to make a comeback from his divisional results. Williams finished the 100 in 10.9 seconds, and the 200 in 22.2.

Joining him at the qualifiers will be fellow junior Middle Country track and field athlete Chris Weiner, who will compete in the pole vault.

Middle Country track coach George Royce said he believes that Weiner, who did not place at the divisional meet, will bounce back at state qualifiers, as he said the wind gave him a little trouble. As for Williams, Royce says he hopes to see his star athlete build on his divisional times.

“I think he’s going to do even better this weekend, once we fine tune a couple things,” Royce said. “The sprint races all depend on how they feel that day.”

Denzel Williams competes in the long jump for Middle Country. File photo by Bill Landon
Denzel Williams competes in the long jump for Middle Country. File photo by Bill Landon

For Williams, a key to success is having a short memory, something that, as a three-sport athlete, he has had ample opportunity to develop.

In the fall Williams is a running back and safety on the football team, in the winter he’s a combo guard for basketball, and in the spring he sprints.

Williams said track is particularly beneficial, as it helps him stay fit year-round.

“It keeps me in shape for all my sports,” he said. “It only helps you get better. It won’t hurt you. You get faster; stronger.”

Among all three of his coaches — Royce, head football coach Joseph Piccinnini and head basketball coach Anthony Agostino — one theme was consistent in describing Williams: a hard worker.

“He’s probably the best all-around athlete I’ve ever coached in terms of speed and jumping ability,” Agostino said. “He’s a tremendous leader. He works hard and he’s admired by his peers and faculty. He’s the real deal.”

Williams said the most difficult part about being a three-sport athlete is balancing school work.

“It’s difficult, but you’ve got to maintain,” he said. “It’s a lot of late-night studying, but that’s the price you pay. It’s worth it in the end.”

Though Royce said there have been some occasional scheduling conflicts, he feels it is important for young athletes to play multiple sports.

“Nowadays a lot of coaches think that kids should be playing their sport all year round, but I disagree,” he said. “I think most good athletes can do three sports. It’s beneficial for them, too.”

Although early, Williams said he is leaning toward football in college, but said track is a possibility as well. He has been looked at by a number of local programs, including the University of Massachusetts, Lowell; Stony Brook University and Fordham University.

Piccinnini said one of Williams’ most valuable tools is his speed, and it doesn’t just help him in track, but also on the gridiron.

“He’s got that closing speed and that breakaway speed needed,” he said. “That’s a great thing to have, and he has it.”

Williams will see what happens in the remaining year. In the meantime, he has his hands full finishing up track season before getting ready for football. Royce is confident that Williams will be successful in whatever he chooses.

“He’s determined,” Royce said. “He’s gifted with tremendous speed and jumping abilities. The sky’s the limit with how far he’s going to go.”