A’Jani Williams is not a fan of cold-weather running. The 18-year-old track standout won’t have to worry any more about racing in chilly, blustery, snowy or rainy conditions, which can often curse the beginning of Michigan’s high school track season.
Williams’ next school practice will be down south in Mississippi’s far warmer climate.
The 2017 North Farmington graduate recently signed a national letter of intent to run track and continue her academic career at Mississippi Valley State University. She’s looking forward to running for the Devilettes who compete in the 10-team Southwestern Athletic Conference.
“I’ve always wanted to run down south,” said Williams, better known as A.J. “It’s always hot down there and I don’t have to worry about like having to go inside because it’s too cold and there’s snow on the ground. I like running in the heat.
“I’m really excited to get going down there. It’s going to be something new for me because it’s down south. I’ve been down south, but never to Mississippi. I know it’s hot down there.”
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Just ‘the right school’
While she had considered Indiana Tech, Mississippi Valley State’s track and medical programs — she plans to get into dentistry — are what ultimately attracted her to the school, which is part of the historically black university group with such institutions as Grambling and Jackson State universities.
Mississippi Valley State University’s second-year head coach Fermon Tate Jr. has Michigan coaching ties.
In 2002, he led Detroit Benedictine to the Division 4 state championship and also coached Detroit Country Day graduate and current professional runner Kendall Baisden. In addition, Tate’s son Fermon was a championship middle distance runner at Farmington Harrison and then at Central Michigan University where he still holds the school’s 500-meter run indoor record.
“(Mississippi Valley State) reached out to me and I looked up the school and they have a lot of really good programs I was reaching for in the career I’m trying to go for,” Williams said. “Plus, they have a really good track team as well. I feel like it was just the right school to go to. It wasn’t too big and it wasn’t too small.”
Williams ran track in middle school, but did not…