On Thursday, the Southeastern Conference announced that Georgia women’s track and field heptathlete star Kendell Williams has been named the SEC’s Roy F. Kramer Female Athlete of the Year.
Williams is the sixth UGA woman to win this SEC honor since 1992 and the 11th Bulldog overall to garner the men or women’s award. The Marietta, Ga., native is the first Georgia student-athlete to win since Allison Schmitt from swimming and diving in 2013. Also of note, current Bulldog gymnastics head coach Courtney Kupets earned the honor in 2009 during her undergraduate years in Athens.
A two-time semifinalist for The Bowerman Award, which is track and field’s version of the Heisman Trophy, Williams was most recently named the Honda Award winner for her sport and one of three finalists for the Honda Cup. Williams was the 20th Bulldog to win a Honda Award but was the first from track and field.
Anchored by Williams’ finishes, the Georgia women have posted eight straight top-five NCAA team finishes, including record-breaking runner-up finishes at the 2017 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships.
Williams scored 6,265 to capture her third NCAA heptathlon title (2014, 2016, 2017) outdoors in early June and her seventh national championship overall. Her final tally was the second best of her career at the time behind her 6,402 school record at the 2016 Olympic Trials. The four-time SEC champion becomes only the third competitor in NCAA history to win at least three national heptathlon crowns.
Following this year’s NCAA meet, the 2016 Olympian returned to action at the USATF Outdoor Championships in late June and scored a personal best 6,564 points to clinch the title by seven points. This score is the second-best tally by a collegian outside of the collegiate season in history. Williams’ older brother, fellow Bulldog senior Devon Williams, took third at the USATF meet in the decathlon to also qualify for the IAAF World Championships coming to London in August. Kendell and Devon became the first siblings to qualify for the World Championships for Team USA since Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Al Joyner in 1983.
Indoors, Williams became the only woman in NCAA Division I history to win four times in the same event after sweeping the pentathlon from 2014-17. She ends her career with seven of the top-10 pentathlon scores in collegiate history, including the top four. These 2017 NCAA victories in the pentathlon and heptathlon gave her the multi-events sweep for the third time in her career. Only two other competitors in history have swept the multi-events for the women.
The three-time U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Women’s Indoor Field Athlete of the Year finished her Georgia career as a 10-time First Team All-American. She holds collegiate all-time bests in the pentathlon 60-meter hurdles (8.03) and heptathlon 100m hurdles (12.83).