Kendell And Devon Williams Accomplished A Historic Family Sweep
"To win as a family, that's pretty special," Devon told FloTrack after the family sweep.
With the weight of being the heavy favorite on her shoulders, Kendell opened Friday with a collegiate pentathlon individual record in the 60m hurdles in 8.03 seconds. The Bulldogs senior went on to finish fourth in the high jump with a mark of 1.78m, first in the shot put with a mark of 12.96m, and second in the long jump behind Arkansas' Taliyah Brooks. After the high jump, the defending champion lost her lead to Brooks but regained it in the following events. Heading into the 800m, Kendell held a slim nine-point lead ahead of Brooks, who carried a faster personal best in the event. But Williams left nothing to chance when she stormed the field with a personal best of 2:15.61, seven seconds ahead of Brooks.
Kendell's performances culminated with a point total of 4,682, the second most in meet history and third most in collegiate history behind her own record. She also became the first woman to win four national indoor championships in one event.
After completing the first day of competition on Friday, the momentum continued on Saturday with a dramatic comeback from her brother, Devon. He started day two by setting the meet record with the sixth-best heptathlon 60m hurdles time in collegiate history. The performance put the UGA senior within 70 points of competition leader Tim Duckworth of Kentucky.
Later on in the pole vault, Devon cleared the second-best height of his career with a mark of 4.76m, which put him in second-place behind Duckworth. Prior to the 1000m, the last event of the competition, Devon trailed Duckworth by 224 points.
In a stunning final effort, Devon finished with a new personal best of 2:41.26 to overthrow Duckworth and claim his first NCAA crown with 6,177 points, the fifth-best performance in NCAA history.
"To be honest, the whole time I was just thinking 'It's only five laps on a 200-meter track,'" Devon said. "So the whole time I was telling myself 'This is easy,' but it wasn't easy at all. I was just trying to train my mind."
According to GeorgiaDogs.com, Devon's comeback represents the largest deficit erased in the final event for a win since Duke's Curtis Beach jumped from fourth place and erased a 236-point margin to Wisconsin's Jay Cato by running a world record of 2:23.68 in 2014.
The Williams siblings are unique to the history of track and field greats. No sibling duo has ever won NCAA titles in the multi-events at the same meet, but several family members have scored in the same championship competition.
Al Joyner and Jackie Joyner-Kersee both racked up points at the 1983 NCAA Outdoor Championships, where Al finished second in the triple jump and Jackie won the heptathlon. Al went on to win Olympic gold in the triple jump at the 1984 Olympic Games. Jackie claimed silver in the heptathlon in the same championship and later earned three Olympic gold medals in the 1988 and 1992 Games.
Sprint twins Mikele and Me'Lisa Barber scored in the same NCAA indoor championship in 2000. Mikele won the 200m and finished second in the 400m while Me'Lisa finished third in the 200m. The sisters went on to win relay gold at several different championships. Me'Lisa won titles as a member of the 4x400m at the 2003 World Championships and as a member of the 4x100m at the 2005 World Championships. Mikele captured gold as part of the 4x100m at the 2007 World Championships.
In his post-competition interview, Devon said he drew inspiration from watching his sister before completing his events.
"It's always inspirational watching [Kendell] go," he said. "She always does good things. We're always expecting good things from her."
Devon and Kendell will both graduate this spring. Kendell has already competed on two senior international teams. She finished sixth at the 2016 World Indoor Championships and 17th in her first Olympic Games last summer. Devon hasn't made an international team yet but has the potential to become a Team USA member, especially after his fifth-place showing in the decathlon at the 2016 Olympic Trials.
After their historic NCAA performances, the Williams siblings could add Team USA mainstay to their list of accolades.