HANNIBAL — Aneyas Williams made an immediate impact in his freshman season, taking part in three events at the Class 4 state track and field meet for Hannibal.
Williams found his niche in the sprint races, placing first or finishing near the top in the 100 and 200-meter dashes throughout the season.
“Coach (Jeff Gschwender) and I knew it was possible, we just had to work for it,” Williams said. “Just improve all season long. I worked on my strides and did everything possible to get to where I’m at now.”
Although Williams fell short in the 100-meter dash in the district meet, he finished second in both the district and sectional meet in the 200-meter dash to qualify for the state meet.
It culminated with a fourth-place finish at the state meet in the 200-meter dash, with only 0.19 seconds separating the top-four runners in the race.
“It was a pretty exciting race, and afterwards Aneyas is disappointed in himself finishing in fourth place,” Gschwender said. “That tells you what kind of kid he is. He wants to go out there and win.”
Gschwender added he expects Williams will qualify for state in multiple sprint events next season.
“You don’t see a whole lot of freshman boys in the finals of a race like that, and it just shows what kind of athlete Aneyas is,” Gschwender said. “There are just so many things that kid can do. It’s just figuring out which ones he’s going to lock in and be the best at.”
Williams was also part of the two Hannibal relay teams that qualified for state — the 4x100 and 4x200-meter relays.
The 4x200-meter race did not go as well as Williams and Hannibal were hoping for, placing 10th overall.
Hannibal had a chance for redemption in the 4X100-meter race and Williams was eager to have a better finish.
“It was just a fun and exciting race,” Williams said. “We ran well. Definitely could have left a little bit more out in the 4x2, but we gave it are all in the 4x1.”
It nearly resulted in a championship for Hannibal in the 4X100-meter relay, as the Pirates finished second to Harrisonville with only 0.02 seconds separating the two teams.
Hannibal sophomore Sheldon Bergheger was the third runner in the 4x100 and handed off the baton to Williams to finish out the race.
“When I handed off to Aneyas, he just got up and finished strong,” Bergheger said. “Aneyas definitely pushes me to be the best runner and best athlete I can be.”
Hannibal had the same team for both relay races at state, with Williams, Bergheger and Tyler Hardy all returning next season. Only senior Daylan Reading graduates from the sprint relay teams.
Gschwender said it was one of the best performances Hannibal has had in the 4x100-meter relay since he’s been the head coach.
“We focused in practice on really nailing down those handoffs and making sure we had everything down,” Gschwender said. “We knew we had the speed to compete and hopefully win. The top-three places finished in a straight line and we were within a tenth of a second of winning.”
Bergheger said the sprint relay teams put in a lot of work leading up to the state meet.
“We practiced handoffs quite a bit because in some meets we dropped the baton and it wasn’t a good look for us,” Bergheger said. “So, we just got the whole team together to watch everyone on the team’s handoffs. We would key points in hitting them.”
Williams hopes to get better going into his sophomore season and plans to keep training and working hard in the offseason.
“I just need to stay focused,” Williams said. “I know where I am. I know my time and I know what I have to go for now. I lost to a bunch of seniors (this year), so I will keep working and stay focused.”