Former Rock track athlete trains with Olympic team

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Slippery Rock alumnus and former student-athlete Hunter Williams has set a goal to compete in the 2026 Olympics.

Since his time running track at The Rock from 2011 to 2015, he’s stayed in shape while working a full-time job and finding a passion for sliding and track. The endurance level for sliding is competitive and requires athleticism, as well as a background in sports. Sliding and Skeleton go hand-in-hand. Skeleton consists of a single person sliding down a slippery track, while riders lay face-down toward the front of the sled. Having a background in track gave Williams the edge he needed to take on such a tasking sport.

During the pandemic, Williams has been able to work virtually in the oil and gas industry. At SRU, he studied Geographic Information Systems, but still wants to keep athletics relevant in his life. Although his schedule is hectic, he makes time for both his job and training. On top of the stress that comes with that, his training is self-funded.

In 2017, Williams realized he wanted more, and set the bar high for himself. A former teammate of Williams’ suggested looking into competing with the Olympic team. Come the next year, Williams began his journey in sliding with the new team. Team USA is a dream for some, but Williams made it a reality.

After doing some research, he found out he could compete in a combine. The trial includes passing a fitness test in order to prove worthy of a spot. After passing, slide school and push camp were in Williams’ future. If training for the Olympics doesn’t lead to Williams competing, he says he is still glad to be around all of the amazing athletes he trains beside.

“I have work to do, that’s for sure,” Williams said. “But the 2026 Olympics are my goal. Every day will be a challenge leading up to that point.”

A day in the life comes with a sense of normalcy for Williams.

“I wake up at 6:30 and have my morning coffee every day before heading to the track at 8:00 a.m.,” Williams said.

He added that most people, himself included, get there early to warm up and mentally prepare for the day. During a single day, Williams does two to three training runs.

“Here in Lake Placid, New York, the track is nearly a mile long and has 19 timed curves for skeleton, and 20 for bobsled,” he said.

After each run, players and coaches discuss what can be improved upon, and the next run implications are made. Around 9:00 a.m sliding begins and three runs follow. By 11:00 a.m., it’s time for treatment and returning home. After that, he’ll eat lunch, crunch numbers, and analyze data again.

“I’ll do whatever I can to keep progressing in the sport,” Williams said.

His work ethic speaks for itself. In order to qualify, he’d need to place high enough in upcoming races. The World Cup race allows for the highest amount of points, while the Intermediate cup has the second most, and Development tier, consisting of the North American tier, yields the least amount of points. These points add up out of a total 8 races, and whoever has the most is more likely to be offered a chance to play in the Olympic games. His college experiences and winnings helped him to prepare for this point in his career.

To this day, he holds Slippery Rock’s record for the indoor 400m.

“It’s hard to pick just one favorite memory,” Williams said of his time at Slippery Rock. “Senior year, I won the 200-meter dash, and I knew my potential.”

He added that the team was well-rounded, and not just one individual stood out. They were all breaking records in college, so being a standout athlete was difficult.

“In this sport, it comes down to 0.001 of a second,” Williams said.

That 0.001 of a second could be the difference between chalking up a ‘W’ or ‘L’ in the column of races. To be on a good team that is consistently winning, it is no surprise that junior year the conference title was theirs to win, and they did exactly that.

The future is bright and, between his college career and post-college career, Williams has put together a decorated career. The Rock is proud to have alumni like Hunter Williams, who is making a name for himself in the world.

Madison Williams is a sophomore Communications & Converged Journalism Major and has a minor in sports management. Madison is a first-year member of both The Rocket and WSRU-TV news as an anchor. After graduation, Madison plans to score a job in Sports Broadcasting.

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