by Connor Soudani
There are those who run cross country for the opportunity to be on a close-knit team. There are those who run cross country because they like to race. Then there are those who run cross country to win. Senior Christina Williams is one of those people.
“I think everybody is different, but winning is a big deal [for her]. That’s just blunt honest. She likes to win,” Head Coach Toby Schwarz said.
After finishing out her high school career with two years at Northwest Christian in which she was named team MVP her senior year and broke the school’s 5k record, Williams moved on to Whitworth. Since then, she has been a dominating force for the Pirates.
Williams is one of the team captains this year on a team that has goals of going to nationals. After a summer that included an injury, Williams remains confident that she can help the women’s team get to nationals.
“Toby [Schwarz] has told us several times that he thinks we’re the best women’s team that [Whitworth] has ever had and there’s been a team that’s gotten sixth in the nation before,” Williams said.
Williams also said she has personal reasons for wanting the team to get to the national stage.
“If that’s our potential, I’m not going to be content unless we get there,” Williams said.
Williams also said the cross country program here at Whitworth dictated her goals to a great extent.
“The focus is much more on nationals so I think coming in as a freshman I kind of knew that and ever since I’ve been a freshman that’s been a goal,” Williams said.
Jon Williams, Christina’s husband, said that Christina has become more frustrated with the injuries than in the past because this is her senior year. However, Jon Williams said she has stayed positive.
“I think for her, she’s just glad she can do it,” Williams said. “There was a while where it was pretty bad over the summer injury wise and [she realizes] just being able to compete in cross country meets is awesome.”
After being one of the three team captains last year, Williams is the only returning captain of the three this year. Williams said she continues to feel humbled by the opportunity.
“It’s just an honor that I get to do that and hopefully I get to lead by example,” Williams said. “We have such a good team and to be a part of the leadership of that team is awesome.”
Junior Kellyn Roiko, one of Williams’ co-captains along with junior Amanda Blankenship, said that Williams is really intentional about running.
“Every practice she comes and thinks about the workout and really focuses on it, but she’s also very intentional about encouraging everyone on the team and being positive,” Roiko said.
Her husband echoed those words.
“Running means a lot to her, so it’s a big deal if she doesn’t go out on a run every day,” Jon Williams said. “As she’s gotten older, I think it’s just become something she wants to do for the rest of her life.”
While Williams admits that she is glad she is a goal-oriented person, she also admits that sometimes that characteristic can hurt her if she’s not careful. However, Roiko believes that Williams does a good job of keeping her attitude balanced after a race, regardless of the outcome.
“[Her attitudes] are different but she’s not drastically upset or negative if she doesn’t do well in a race,” Roiko said. “She’s a constructive person so she’ll take what she didn’t do well and figure out how to change that but she doesn’t let that affect other people around her.”
Williams’ high school coach at Northwest Christian, Terry Meyer, served as both her cross country coach and as her AP Chemistry teacher. Meyer said Williams was very much the same in the classroom as she was in cross country.
“She was an incredible student, very thorough, really a delight to have in class,” Meyer said. “She seemed to enjoy class and took chemistry to the extra step and was always doing above and beyond. As an athlete, that kind of marks who she is as well.”
Meyer said he grew to have a certain level of expectation with anything Williams did.
“Each area that I watched her in, I could just expect that whatever she was going to do, she would do 100 percent,” Meyer said.
Williams hopes to use her winner’s mentality this season as a driving force behind the women’s team’s goal, and William’s goal, of qualifying for cross country nationals.