ALLENDALE, Mich. -- George Williams has won so many national titles that he's found it difficult to count all the way to 14 ... twice. But the Saint Augustine’s coach likes every team for different reasons.
“It always means something different because I have different kids all the time,” said Williams, who is in his 39th year with the Falcons and has won 37 titles combined between men and women, including 14 men's indoor and 14 men's outdoor titles.
“This is for them. On this team here, I had three or four kids who just graduated a few days ago. I graduate about 95 percent of my kids.”
The Falcons won with 53 points, narrowly edging out Findlay, which finished second with 50. Ashland was third with 43, followed by Texas A&M-Kingsville (41) and Adams State (40).
“It means a lot,” senior JaQuan Demiel said. “All that we went through … all the hard work. It comes together in the end. This is what counts, right here.”
The Falcons won two events. Omar Johnson won the 400 meters with a time of 45.78 and David Shaw won the triple jump with a leap of 51-11 feet (15.82m).
It wasn’t an easy road for Demiel and Saint Augustine’s.
“This is the first time I’ve ever won without a 4x4 meter relay team,” Williams said. “It’s always been my key to a win. I usually win by one point or two points and my 4x4 team is usually why.”
The reason why is the Falcons 1,600 meter relay team was disqualified during preliminaries on Friday.
“This is the first championship I had to make a lot of decisions,” Williams said. “I had to take my 400 meter guy off the lead-off leg [Omar Johnson] and put in my long jumper [Demiel].”
Demiel said he’s glad he bounced back from a rough meet.
“When our 4x4 dropped the baton [it was hard],” Demiel said. “We don’t really know what happened. The third leg switch hands when he got the baton and he dropped it. Then I fouled all my jumps in the long jump. So that was the biggest shock for me.”
Demiel said graduating last week outweighs winning a title, but not by much.
“I just graduated,” he said. “Graduation was more for my mom and this [title] is for my team. We had a tough year. But they are both up there.”
Did his mother, Cynthia Demiel, make the trip to Michigan?
“No, she couldn’t make it,” he said. “She’s watching online. Every event. She texted me, though.”
Demeil said competing for Williams isn’t easy, but it’s rewarding.
“It’s tough,” he said. “He’s always on us. We keep going because we don’t want to let him down. It’s a tradition to win here. We don’t wanna be the team to lose.”
The members of on the title team are: Moussa Dembele (110 hurdles), Demiel (long jump), Burkheart Ellis Jr. (200, 400, 4x100, 4x400), Khari Herbert (400, 4x100, 4x400), Kevaugh Hewitt (4x400), Immanuel Hutchinson (4x400), Daniel Jameison (100, 200, 4x100), Omar Johnson (200, 400, 4x400), Claytin Lewis (4x100) and David Shaw (triple jump).
“I like the way they ran the championship this year,” Williams said of GVSU, which hosted back-to-back years. “It was a beautiful championship.”