Record-breaking Williams among Downstaters to shine at Meet of Champions

By Chuck Durante
Posted 5/26/24

WILMINGTON — On a night of perfect weather, Elijah Williams ran the most perfect race ever run by a Delaware hurdler.

The Smyrna High senior smashed the state record in the 110-meter high …

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Record-breaking Williams among Downstaters to shine at Meet of Champions


WILMINGTON — On a night of perfect weather, Elijah Williams ran the most perfect race ever run by a Delaware hurdler.

The Smyrna High senior smashed the state record in the 110-meter high hurdles at the Meet of Champions on Wednesday, becoming the first Delaware hurdler to break 14 seconds.

One of three record-setters and six Downstate victors at the meet that determines the sport’s all-state team, Williams ran 13.80 to break the record of 14.00 set five years ago by Brahmir Vick of Middletown, who graduates from the U.S. Naval Academy this weekend.

Minutes after winning the high jump at 6 feet 8 inches, Williams jogged to the starting line.

“I didn’t really have time to cool down,” said Williams. “Because I was warm, I didn’t have to warm back up. I had a little something to drink, then I went right into it.

“I was a little tired, but you have to adjust to it. Even if you have three events, you have to adjust,” said Williams, who progressed from 16.33 seconds as a freshman to trading victories last year with Sussex Tech’s Yougendy Mauricette, behind the mentoring of former coach Jonathan Dickey.

After rolling his ankle in the high jump early this season, Williams didn’t cut his time to 14.2 until the Henlopen Conference meet.

Fresh from clearing every height on the first try through the winning height of 6-8, he roared flawlessly over the 10 hurdles.

“It was just a blur to me,” said Williams.

Williams nearly accomplished the same double in the indoor meet, where he won the high jump and set the third best 55-meter hurdle run in state history in a preliminary heat. He false-started in the finals.

Williams is planning to attend Coppin State.

Other Henlopen Conference winners included Laurel’s Brandon Rife in the discus, Milford shot-putter David Fuhrman, Dover long jumper Jahiem Cole, Cape Henlopen pole vaulter Bailey Fletcher and Smyrna sophomore Aaliyah Turpin, the only Henlopen girl to reach the winner’s circle, in the 100-meter hurdles.

Since 2001, the Meet of Champions has combined the top finishers in both divisions of the state meet. Freed of sacrificing themselves for team scores, runners are able to pursue personal bests, school records and state records in an evening of cool temperatures and warm feelings among rivals, particularly those about to graduate and scatter.

Ethan Walther, a junior from Salesianum, became the state record holder in the 800, running 1:49.01, surpassing the record of 1:49.4 set 40 years ago by Bruce Harris of Dover and for now ranking as the top time this year in the nation.

At the New Castle County meet two weeks ago, Walther ran 4:08.91 to break the state record in the 1600, held since 2015 by Kieran Tuntivate, the sub-4 minute miler from Wilmington Charter and Harvard.

Another 40-year-old record fell at the end of the evening, when Padua’s Anna Bockius, Madelyn Mead, Sophia Holgado and Molly Flanagan ran 3:47.85 to shatter by two seconds the record set by William Penn in 1984 in the Girls 4x400 relay.

Bockius’ father, Troy Bockius, starred for Dover High in 1993-95.

Rife’s brother, Justin, also won the discus for Laurel in the Meet of Champions in 2010 and 2011. In joining his brother, Brandon exceeded Justin’s winning performances, tossing the discus 170 feet 10 inches, the state’s farthest in five years.

“I was consistent today. Coming into warmups I was loose, felt good. In warmups I threw 180,” said Rife, a right tackle for the Bulldogs last fall, who credited his coach David King for his form.

Fletcher followed Cape classmate Eddie Houck to try the pole vault as a sophomore. Once he learned the technique, he began traveling twice weekly to Norristown, Pa., to train with the Philadelphia Jump Club.

At Cape the rest of the week, he does sprint workouts and strength training.

After clinching victory at 15 feet on Wednesday, he set the bar at 15-7 in an attempt to surpass the school record of 15-6 set in 2015 by two-time state champion Sam Young, who helps coach Fletcher. Tiring and working with a heavier pole, he was unsuccessful, but will continue competing this summer and at Ohio State this fall.

Dover’s Cole won the long jump by a quarter-inch over Caravel’s Vandrick Hamlin, who edged him in the triple jump.

Henlopen athletes dominated the high jump. Jaden Brown of Smyrna, Stephen Hart of Cape and Benjamin Gusciora of Milford finished 2-3-4 behind Williams.
Kirja Hickman of Lake Forest finished second in the shot put and discus to Middletown’s regionally ranked Simone Cooper.

Turpin finished second in the 100 to triple-winner Juliana Balon of Padua. Also finishing second were Tatiyanna Davis of Caesar Rodney in the triple jump, pole vaulter Addison Bowman of Cape and Caesar Rodney’s 4x800 relay.

Other Downstate boys who finished second included Cape pole vaulter Houck, Cape’s Trey Johnson in the 100, Caesar Rodney’s Gabe Harris in the 300 hurdles and Caesar Rodney’s 4x400 relay.

Chuck Durante is a free-lance writer living in Wilmington.

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