By Luke Strickland – Clayton Daily News
RIVERDALE — Riverdale High School’s Runeshia Williams didn’t pick up a shot put until her eighth grade year at Kendrick Middle School.
She still remembers the first time she ever launched a shot put. Barry Ross, a longtime coach at Kendrick Middle, asked Williams if she wanted to try her hand in the event.
“I actually started in middle school when I was in eighth grade,” said Williams. “The coach at Kendrick Middle School — his name was coach Ross — asked me to come out and do the shot put and discus. I had never tried it before.”
Williams said she grabbed the shot put and noticed it was heavier than it looked. She then made a toss of around 30 feet and wheeled around to ask Ross how she did.
“I asked ‘was that good,’” she said. “He said ‘yeah, that’s good. You’re in middle school.’”
At that moment, a shot put star was born. Williams has improved her distance to close to 40 feet in the shot put, which culminated in an individual region title in the event at last week’s Region 4-AAAA championships. Williams also qualified for sectionals in the discus and is a member of the 4×100-meter relay team that qualified for sectionals.
Despite qualifying for the state tournament in the shot put as a freshman, Williams’ tenure at Riverdale hasn’t been an easy one. She’s had to handle an early spotlight while dealing with three different coaches in three seasons.
But behind a strong support system, Williams has managed to improve her distances and move closer to a top finish at the state championships.
“Runeshia would not be in the position she’s in today without her parents and coaches instilling in her that hard work pays off,” said Riverdale head coach Jason Bostic. “She adjusted well having three different coaches in three years. She’s a leader by example and was a big help in helping the young and inexperienced throwers reach their goals this year. I’m very proud of how she accepted her role on the team.”
Williams gives Bostic credit for her success this season.
“I try to get someone to record me so I can see what I need to work on,” she said. “Coach Bostic actually comes to me and records me and shows me what I need to work on with the bad things so I can improve the next time.”
Williams has smashed any distance she’s set as goals so far in her career. Entering sectionals, her new goal is to reach 40 to 45 feet in the shot put and 120 feet in the discus. With her positive attitude and commitment to improving, there’s no reason to think she won’t be focusing on new goals in her senior season.
“Runeshia always has a positive attitude both on the field and in the classroom,” said Bostic. “She’s showcased everything she’s been coached to do through hard work and staying calm and cool through any situation.”
Despite arriving to the shot put scene later than some, Williams has carved out a niche in the Riverdale track and field team. She said she never expected to be in this position growing up, but that she’s grown to love the competition and the attention to detail that goes into training for both the shot put and discus.
“It’s actually great. I love it,” she said.
Williams and the rest of the Riverdale track and field program will compete in the Class AAAA sectionals Saturday at Eagle’s Landing High School. To qualify for state, competitors must finish in the top eight at sectionals in their respective events.