Thirty years from now Dalen Williams will be nearing 50 years of age and likely still have vivid memories of his final year of high school.
Rarely getting on the tennis court due to an injury, losing a terrific friend in an automobile accident, the novel coronavirus forcing all high school spring sports to be cancelled, seeing no classroom activity post spring break, prom being postponed and graduation being an unknown as of May 4 will all be keynote memories in his head.
Out of so many negative things comes positive news for the Waldron High School senior. He recently committed to attend Franklin College where he will study Exercise Science and continue his award-winning track and field career. And this past week, Williams was awarded the inaugural Jacob James Integrity Scholarship.
Williams and James both represented Waldron at the 2019 IHSAA Track and Field State Meet in Bloomington, on the campus of Indiana University.
A memorial fund was established after the death of James on October 20 in a single car accident. The cross country and track and field standout was an outstanding student and peer on the Waldron campus.
Williams carries himself in much the same way – another outstanding student that is well-regarded in his community.
With no on-campus classes or athletic activities, Williams is closing out his senior year with online activities at a school that only recently adopted eLearning practices.
“We only had 1 or 2 days of eLearning before all this,” said Williams. “So it’s still something a little bit new.”
Williams lost almost all of his senior tennis season last fall due to an injury. And he was looking forward to a return trip to the state finals in June to improve on his 13th-place finish in the discus.
The plan was to secure a top-9 podium finish, six of the top 10 finishers at the 2019 event were seniors, and extend his school record, currently 161 feet, in the event.
“My goal was to throw consistently in the 160s and get a best around 170,” said Williams who was a sectional champion and regional runner-up last spring.
At the collegiate level, there are two more throwing options in addition to the discus and shot put. The hammer throw and javelin provide intriguing opportunities, according to Williams, who admits he is not as proficient in the shot put.
“I want to try both (the hammer throw and javelin) and see if I am better than what I am in the shot put,” he said. “Normally, you only do two (throwing) events but you can do all four if you wanted to. I will definitely stick with the discus, though.”
Williams opted for Franklin College because of its proximity to home and the opportunity to compete for the track and field team as a freshman.
Because of his success in 2019, Williams never lost faith he would secure a collegiate roster spot. But he wanted to show off the early work that Waldron’s throwers did to be ready to move outdoors.
“We started extra early, working a lot harder,” said Williams. “The throwers were lifting as soon as the cross country season was done.”
As for prom and graduation, both are still in the planning stages. He believes a July date is being considered for prom.
Once both of those major milestones are surpassed, Williams can then turn his attention to college.
“I think it will be good to get a new start,” he said.