USM Track & Field duo among best in the nation

Published: Apr. 5, 2023 at 11:54 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Track and Field is not a walk in the park.

“You have to be intrinsically motivated,” said Jon Stuart, in his ninth season as Southern Miss’ Track and Field coach. “It has to come from within, it can’t come from without. So a lot of the progress comes from within the kids. We provide the opportunity and the training and the equipment. They just provide all the effort.”

Stuart has a knack for finding the diamond in the rough.

Two Division II transfers are bringing USM to the forefront of Track and Field, among the best in the country in their respective events.

Omar Austin and Jared Williams both reached personal bests since joining the Golden Eagles.

“It has honestly been a very great experience,” said Williams, a senior transfer from Johnson C. Smith University. “It’s been a fun experience, most definitely. The environment is great, I love my teammates. I love the track I’m on.”

“Just being around people that have the same mind as me and want to make it and want to be great,” said Austin, a junior transfer from Northwest Missouri State. “So when you’re around the right people and you have a coach who trusts in you and believes in the process, good results happen.”

After spending two years away from track, Austin returned refreshed.

His blazing 45.89 second sprint in the 400-meter run at the Florida State Relays ranks sixth in the nation and first in the Sun Belt. Austin also tops in the conference in the 200-meter run with a time of 20.92 seconds.

Williams cracked the NCAA’s top ten at No. 9 with a 13.97 in the 110-meter hurdles at the Florida State Relays.

Both guys believe their fastest is yet to come.

“Not in the sense of being cocky, know this is going to happen but I already envisioned it,” Austin said. “I had bigger goals, I had bigger plans. I’m just working even harder now because I know by the end of the season I want to be No. 1, not No. 6.

“When you hit a good time, when you hit a PR, you just gotta keep pushing. You gotta know that you still have more left in you.”

“You definitely have to be productive and you definitely have to have a lot of self-discipline, if you ask me,” Williams said. “Because it’s not easy, there are days where you’re just not going to want to show up to practice. You just gotta tell yourself, ‘How bad do you want it?’”

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