Delta's Hailey Williams pens NLI to run track at Duke

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) Delta track star Hailey Williams signed her National Letter of Intent Monday in front of a gathering of friends, family and supporters. Williams became the first athlete out of Delta high school to sign to a Division I program.

"These people here today, they are my family," Williams said with emotion after penning her NLI at Delta High School. "I see them every single day. They are kids that I grew up with, they've seen me struggle, they've always lifted me up. It is amazing to say that I am from Delta. They're my family."

The accolades run deep for Williams, who has swept the 100, 200 and 400-meter titles at the state championships the past two years and has seven state titles to her name. She was tabbed the 2018 Gatorade Player of the Year for track and field after her dominant season. Williams became the first Alaskan girl in 37 years to break a sub-12 second 100-meter dash when she clocked in at 11.95 at the New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, North Carolina in June. The first girl to run under 12 seconds was Bartlett's Scarlett Jackson, who ran an 11.8 in 1981. At the same event in North Carolina, Williams posted a 24.05 time in the 200, which if ran in Alaska, would defeat the state record of 24.73 set in 2015 by Tanner Ealum of Anchorage Christian School. Williams also holds the record for fastest 100-meter time at the state championships, clocking in at 12.38 in May.

It is difficult to make it to Division I from Alaska in any sport, but particularly in track from Delta-Junction. Williams had to make sacrifices and accommodations to get to where she is today.

"Coming from a small place does have its challenges. We don't have a track, well we do, but it is an asphalt track, so these kids run in the hallways in order to prepare, so she has had to go the extra mile, above and beyond, to get to Fairbanks or to get to Anchorage to make sure she can succeed," Eileen Williams, Hailey's mother said after her signing. "She has had to step up to show she has the ability to do it, not just here, but in the state of Alaska. Track is not necessarily what we are known for so she has had to go above and beyond to get there."

As the first Delta athlete to go DI, Williams had to prove herself throughout her career show she belongs.

"Well, it is funny, when she was a freshman, our track coach at the time didn't think she was a sprinter," Delta Athletic Director Daniel Klein said. "She had to actually prove to the track coach that she was a sprinter and now she is a DI athlete in the 100 and the 200 so, that's what she wanted to do and she did it."

With still her senior year to go, expect Williams to continue making strides and rewriting the Alaska Track and Field record books.