Although the Hayden basketball team struggled at times en route to a 4-15 record, Savannah Williams helped a team of mostly inexperienced players improve during the season.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Although the Hayden basketball team struggled at times en route to a 4-15 record, Savannah Williams helped a team of mostly inexperienced players improve during the season.

Hayden Female Athlete of the Year: Savannah Williams

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Hayden senior Savannah Williams, left, excelled in distance running throughout her high school career, both in track for Hayden High School as well as in cross-country for Moffat County High School.

There couldn’t be a high school sports focus more perfect for Hayden senior Savannah Williams than distance running.

Of course, distance running is where she shined the most during her high school career. Williams qualified twice over for this year’s Class 2A high school state track meet, making the field in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs.

That makes four years in a row and six total races at state for Williams.

She also ran cross-country in the fall for Moffat County High School, where she helped the squad to a regional championship and a sixth-place finish in the Class 3A state meet, her second time as a regional champ and third trip to state.

Williams might not have had any sport as trying as basketball in her senior season, however. Coach Michelle Wilkie said that’s where Williams’ distance-running heart shined through.

Entering the season with a heap of inexperienced players suddenly thrust into front-line roles, Hayden started the season 0-4 and didn’t win its second game until late January.

“It was her attitude,” Wilkie said. “Savannah just never quit. She was always very positive, very supportive and encouraging to all of her teammates. That’s what makes her special in my mind.”

Williams certainly had her moments on the court. She was second on the team in scoring, averaging 6.5 points per game, barely behind Olivia Zehner’s 6.9.

When she was at her best, her team usually was, as well. She scored her season high of 14 points in a win against Vail Christian, had 13 in a win against West Grand and 12 when the Tigers beat Encampment, Wyo.

Hayden finished 4-15, hardly the season the Tigers were hoping for, but the squad won two of its final five and improved throughout the season.

Wilkie said that was in no small part thanks to Williams, who earned all-league honorable mention honors in basketball.

“She’s not an individual type player. She’s a team player,” Wilkie said.

Those same characteristics helped her again when she was back to running. As she worked her way through her senior season, Williams again led the way for a young and inexperienced squad, this time the track team. She put up some of the best times of her career.

“Her leadership at practices and track meets is phenomenal,” track coach Patrick Moore said. “She’s fun to watch, and she’s a great teammate. It was a blessing to have her on the team this year, especially for a couple of first-year coaches.”

It was Wilkie who delivered the most ringing endorsement possible for a high school athlete.

“I love the heck out of that kid,” she said. “I don’t want her to leave.”

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