COVINGTON - Eastside's Karl Williams is a part-time football player, part-time wrestler, part-time track and field competitor and a full-time athlete.
While not on the football field for his junior year this season because of a herniated disc in his neck, Williams made his return to Eastside athletics in a big way on the wrestling mat before getting on the track.
Williams was the Area 8-AAAA wrestling champion in the 215-pound weight division and finished fourth in the Class AAAA traditional state tournament.
On the track, he ran a leg in the 400 relay team, which finished sixth in the state, and he came in third in the Region 8-AAAA meet for the discus.
After getting medical clearance, Williams stepped onto the mat halfway through the wrestling season.
Not only did he miss the first part of the season, he also did not wrestle his sophomore year. But he made up for it in a big way.
Williams fought his way back to become an area champion and a medalist in the Class AAAA traditional state tournament.
"His overall record for the season was 23 wins and
6 losses. He did all this after not having wrestled last year and he did not come out this year until January," Eastside wrestling head coach Brandon Blakeman said. "He had about four and a half weeks of practice before the area meet and about five and a half weeks before the state meet, and he only practiced two days a week due to other commitments."
Aside from participating in the 400 relay and the discus throw, Williams also ran the 200 meters before an injury forced him to stop participating.
Prior to injuring his leg, Williams had a personal best in the 200 with a time of 22.84 at Loganville Tri-Meet No. 2, where he won the event.
"He's a little freakish. Usually, kids at that size are not sprinters. But him being that heavy and being able to run that fast is phenomenal," Eastside track coach Frankey Iverson said. "Being that big and that fast only comes along once every blue moon. It just happens to be here."
When Williams ran the final leg in the 400 relay at the region tournament, which Eastside won with a time of 42.43 seconds, he was not at full speed. But Iverson figured that Williams at less than 100 percent was better than someone else at full speed.
"We kept him out of running until right before region. We told him just to jog and we still won," Iverson said.
He also finished third in the region in the discus with a throw of 133 feet, 5 inches.
Returning for his senior year on the football field is going to give the Eagles a huge advantage - not only because of his athletic prowess, but because of what he does to those around him.
"Karl just having a chance to get back out there; you can see the change in the team," Iverson said. "We expect some really big things from his this year and he's looking for really big things from himself."
While Williams brings a lot of speed with him, his most valuable asset to whatever sport he's participating in has to be his personality and his ability to work with as well as help others.
"He's not a brash kid. He's very, very quiet as far as working. As far as him being social, he's very social. He's very talkative and the bright part of our team," Iverson said. "I've never seen him upset. He always has a smile on his face. He's never down on himself or anybody, he's always encouraging."
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.
SideBar: Past winners
Former Eastside Athletes of the Year
1999: Chris Mattice
2000: Randy Allen
2001: Ryan Smith
2002: Courtney Castellana
2003: Clarence Smith
2004: Darrell Howard
2005: Megan Jeffords
2006: Caroline Dickey
2007: Catherine Lee