Following last weekend's spectacular state track championships performance,
Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.)
senior Kasen Williams
has vaulted into contention for National Athlete of the Year.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder won Class 4A championships in the triple jump (state-record 50 feet, 9¼ inches), high jump (6-10) and long jump (24-5¼). These accomplishments would have been even better had he not been only about 85 percent recovered from a hamstring injury, which slowed his progress considerably during the previous five weeks.
He also won the state high jump title as a sophomore and the triple jump crown as a junior. He showed early ability to rise to the occasion when he high jumped 6-10 as a sophomore, because his career best had been only 6-6.
Skyline high jump coach Michael Seymour knows why Williams is so successful. He told MaxPreps, "The thing that separates Kasen from every athlete I've ever seen is his competitiveness. He absolutely refuses to lose. If it's in his power and within the rules, he'll win."
He was an All-American wide receiver in football last fall and was named Parade Magazine's National Player of the Year after setting school records with 86 catches for 1,579 yards and 21 touchdowns as Skyline finished second in the state. He also had 89 tackles and four interceptions. In addition, he holds career school records for catches (236), yards (4,161) and touchdowns (56).
He also was all-KingCo Conference in basketball after leading the Spartans in scoring (12.3), rebounding (9.5) and 3-point shooting. As a junior he was the No. 2 scorer and rebounder as the Spartans finished eighth in the state tournament – their highest finish in history – with a 22-5 record.
Williams, who runs 40 yards in 4.5 seconds and has a 31-inch vertical jump, credits his father, Aaron Williams, for his outstanding athletic ability. Aaron once held the state triple jump record and played football at the University of Washington.
Aaron's state record of 50-3/4 for Wilson (Tacoma, Wash.) stood from 1977 until 2005 when Rashad Toussant of West Valley (Spokane, Wash.) soared 50-8¾.
"As soon as he found out his record had been broken, my dad told me it was up to me to get it back," Kasen recalled. "I felt real confident coming into this year. I was extremely happy for me and my dad (when he set a new triple jump record), because we put in so much work."
But he wasn't through yet.
B.J. Arceneaux of Kentwood had just passed him up in the long jump when he leaped 24-2. With only one jump left, Kasen summoned up a personal-record leap of 24-5¼ to take home his third gold medal.
"I was confident and more relaxed than on all my other jumps," the Skyline superstar said. "I just waited. It was high time, because I hadn't been throwing good jumps."
Track coach Marc Hillestad observed, "There was some magic there. Being the competitor that he is, he popped it out there. The crowd erupted. He loved to be pushed and liked the challenge, though it was pretty taxing (the hamstring problem also had hampered his conditioning)."
Earlier in the year - not long before he was injured - Williams starred at the Aracdia Invitational in California, one of the most challenging meets in the country. He won the high jump at 6-11 and was second in the long jump at 24-3½.
Kasen often runs a pair of relays. At one time or another he also has competed in the 100 meters, 200, 400 and javelin.
Ironically, basketball was Kasen's first love.
"I started in third grade and originally thought that basketball was going to be my main sport," he noted.
However, when he reached Skyline High School, his thoughts began to shift to football.
He explained, "I was getting more playing time on the football field and more (college) recognition out there."
It took three players being injured, he said, for him to gain a starting berth in the football playoffs as a freshman. The Spartans overcame a 28-7 deficit to defeat O'Dea (Seattle), 42-35, for the Class 3A state title. Football coach Matt Taylor recalled, "His claim to fame was the state championship game. He had two amazing catches. He caught a slant route on the final drive. He got knocked out, but held on to the ball. We scored two plays later and won the game."
It was to be the first of three state football titles for the amazing teenager, who also reached the title game as a senior only to lose for the first time.Continue reading