Natchez native has lofty goals

Published 12:01 am Thursday, September 5, 2013

MADISON, S.D. — Getting off to a fast start is the name of the game for Natchez native D’Artist Williams.

Breaking collegiate records and placing in national events is every track athlete’s dream. But Williams has already done that in his freshman year. So as his sophomore year at Dakota State University begins, Williams has some new goals in mind.

And he doesn’t even need to stretch to achieve his most important goal.

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“First, I’m going to get my grades up, then track is second,” he said.

His freshman year consisted of nothing but success as he and his teammates, Mark Moeller, Stacey Berg and Seth Boomsma, won first place in the 4X400-meter relay race at the Howard Wood Dakota Relays.

With a placement like that, the quartet competed in the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics national championships, where they placed third.

Williams said placing in a national event was an honor.

“It felt fantastic, because looking at the other schools that were there, we had good competition,” he said.

Even though they weren’t the fastest at the meet, they still clocked in as the fastest team in South Dakota.

They now have the fastest South Dakota collegiate time at 40.68 seconds. The previous record was at 40.70 seconds.

Williams said when the season first started, he never imagined it would end in such a high fashion.

“I wasn’t expecting us to do what we did last year,” he said. “But I had a hunch that we were going to succeed and we were a confident team.”

With a few accomplishments under his belt, Williams has set the bar even higher for himself.

But with doing that, Williams said he also knows his limits.

“I ran outdoors and indoors track last year, but I’m only going to run outdoors this spring,” Williams said. “I just need to take a load off, and I’ll have a better chance to win if I’m rested up.”

Williams said he wants to shorten his time as the first leg of the 400-meter relay, and he also wants to shorten his time in the 100-meter dash.

“I got 10.7 seconds on it, and it was OK, but I want it get it down to 10.5,” Williams said. “A time like that will take me to the Drake Relays in Iowa, and you’re selected individually.”

Williams’ sophomore-year goals don’t end there as he has an even higher pedestal he wants to climb.

“I would like to be an All-American my sophomore year,” he said. “To do that, you have to place at Nationals (in an individual event). I would love to place in the 100-meter.”

Williams said he is not sure if he wants to strive for becoming a professional athlete or work within his major once he graduates. But one thing he does know is that he wants to be around sports for the rest of his life.

Williams is the son of Angela Williams-Bethley of Madison, S.D., and Willie Hutchins of Natchez. He was raised in Natchez and attended McLaurin Elementary School before later moving to Vidalia. He eventually moved to South Dakota with his mother and stepfather.