By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Growing up, William Gilbert-Harmon wasn’t very big. Compared to the other boys his age, he was small for his age and they didn’t hesitate to remind him of it.
But then a strange thing happened to Gilbert-Harmon. He grew up. Now the junior at Southmoore High is using the taunts he received as a kid to his advantage to become one of the top hurdlers in the state.
“They thought I was just a short shrimp back when I was little,” Gilbert-Harmon said. “I got kind of bigger. Almost 6-foot now. So, I’m working. I knew I was going to be successful. My parents told me and they are the ones that kept me going.”
Working has been Gilbert-Harmon’s key to climbing up the 300-meter ladder as he eyes becoming the best in the state. He has the sixth fastest time in class 6A with a 40.54. That’s less than a second off the top time of 39.70.
“His season is coming along perfectly,” assistant track coach Shanon Atkinson said. “It’s going really well. Progressing really well. Each week, he’s getting better and better and better. We just have to go back to the drawing board and work on those last two hurdles. That’s what’s keeping him right now from running high 38 or low 39s.”
After a few close attempts, Gilbert-Harmon won his first race of the season two weeks ago at the John Jacob’s Invitational in Norman. Yet, even though he ran a personal best, a couple of missteps near the end kept him from breaking the 39-second barrier.
But that didn’t discourage him.
“I described this moment better than all my other races,” Gilbert- Harmon said. “Just trying to work my way up to state. Just need to work harder, come with a better mindset and I think I will do good. Expectation is to get a 39. I’m almost there. I think I am on my way.”
But Gilbert-Harmon’s goals extend beyond winning a state title. He wants to continue running after high school.
“My goal is to go to college,” Gilbert-Harmon said. “I am only a junior. Hopefully next year I get to go to college and prove everyone else wrong.”
Gilbert-Harmon said it’s those doubters that have motivated him to get to this point and the need to keep showing them what he’s made of will carry him to the next level.
Even though his coach doesn’t think that type of motivation is productive, he understands where Gilbert-Harmon is coming from.
“I don’t necessarily recommend him doing that,” Atkinson said. “I try to tell these athletes to stay in their own realm. Don’t listen to what other people say because a lot of times that can affect you. A lot of times people will use that as a mind game. If it’s working for him, I’m going to let him keep doing it.”
Gilbert-Harmon and his Southmoore teammates will be back on the track at 4:15 today in the Mid-State Conference track and field championships at Norman High.
But the run to a state gold medal doesn't begin until May 4 with the regional track meet at NHS. He has to finish in the top four to advance to the state track meet May 10-11 in Yukon.
Atkinson said he wouldn’t be surprised if he has a state gold medal in his hand at the end of the season.
“Right now, he’s still very raw,” Atkinson said. “Still has a lot of flaws in his running technique. His hurdling technique has gotten a lot better, and that’s why he’s starting to bring his time down each week. But I believe at the state meet, the kid can easily be on the podium.”
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