Joel Williams is in his tenth year as an assistant track and field coach with the UNC Asheville men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor programs. He heads the sprints and hurdles group, a middle distance group up to 1500m, high jump and throws since October 2007. He’s coached athletes to 10 individual conference championships and had two athletes on the 2013 Big South DMR championship team which set a school, conference and facility record.
During the 2015-16 year, Williams also worked with Milan Ristic, a sprinter/hurdler in his professional career as he prepares for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janerio. In his 2015-16 season, Ristic improved his personal best time in the 110m hurdles from 13.50s to 13.39s, a qualifying mark for the games. That time also gave Ristic a new National Record in the event.
In the 2015-16 season, Williams guided sophomore Kayli Nichols to a sixth place finish in the women’s 60mH with a program-record time of 9.00. Outdoors, Nichols placed fourth in both the women’s 100m hurdles and the women’s 400m hurdles. She was also a part of the women’s 4x100m relay team (Nateja Hale, Argia Gibson, Kayli Nichols, Anna Gelbach) that took 5th with a time of 47.99.
The 4x400m relay team (Kayli Nichols, Alyssa Lashway, Argia Gibson, Anna Gelbach) earned an All-Conference finish in third with a program-best time of 3:49.89.
In the 2014- 2015 season, Williams honed sprinting talent in the Asheville squad.
Kassandra Pierre broke the school (and St. Lucia national record) record in the 400m hurdles with a time of 60.63. The women’s 4x400m team of Pierre, Argia Gibson, Zoe Hickey and Anna Gelbach broke their own school record.at the Big South outdoor championships. That same quartet set a school record in the 4x100m with a time of 48.04.
In the 2013-2014 season, he coached three field athletes to All-Conference finishes.
Meredith Foster Ristic broke her own school record in the high jump clearing 5'7" in winning the indoor conference title. Ristic graduated with four All-Conference finishes and both the Indoor and Outdoor school records in the high jump.
Kurt Hibert came in 3rd at theoutdoor conference meet in the discus. He set a school record in the weight throw indoors.
Corey McClintock finished 2nd in the Conference outdoor meet with a school record in the hammer throw and also set a school record in the indoor weight throw. She was also coached with the help of volunteer Tom Fortier who was instrumental in her success.
In 2012-2013, Williams guided five athletes to seven All-Conference finishes indoors and outdoors.
Junior, Milan Ristic became the school's first ever All-American in any sport, garnering second team All-American status in the 60m Hurdles. Early in the indoor season, he set a school record at 7.75. At the conference indoor meet, he collected his 2nd straight title in the 60mH and finished 3rd in the 60m dash setting a school record of 6.87. He ran a wind-aided 13.78 for his 2nd consecutive outdoor conference championship. That mark also qualified him, for the 2nd straight year, for the NCAA East regional preliminary meet.
Senior, Sarah Gentry won the conference indoor and outdoor 800m championships. Her outdoor championship established a new championship record. Additionally, Gentry, won the conference title at 1500m outdoors while setting a new school record. Indoors, she was also a part of a distance medley relay team that set school, conference, and facility records in the event.
Junior, Kurt Hibert set a school record in the weight throw indoors finishing fifth at the indoor conference meet. Outdoors, Hibert finished 3rd in the conference meet hammer throw with his school record of 56.53m.
Junior, Meredith Foster-Ristic finished second in the high jump at both the indoor and outdoor conference championships.
In the 2011-12 season Williams led young talent to conference championships.
Milan Ristic become the program's first hurdler to qualify for the NCAA Regionals and broke his own school record there with a time of 13.88. Ristic won the 60m hurdles at the Big South indoor meet and the 110m hurdles at the outdoor championships. He also set school records at 200m indoors and outdoors.
Sarah Gentry won the 800m titles at both the indoor and outdoor Big South meet, breaking her own record in the process.
In the 2010-2011 season, Williams found success in his senior leadership and promising talent in his newcomers.
Simon Haake broke his own school record in the javelin with a throw of 68.15m to qualify for the NCAA East preliminary round for the second consecutive year.
Freshman, Milan Ristic, set school records in the 100m, 200m and 110m hurdles (14.32,) this qualified him for the European Athletics Under-23 Championships held in July 2011. Ristic also established school indoor records in the 55m and 200m and ran the second-fastest 60m hurdle time in school history.
In the 2009-2010 season, Freshman Sarah Gentry set a school record at 800m while finishing 2nd in the Big South Conference Indoor meet. Outdoors, Gentry moved into 2nd place in school history with a time of 2:12.14.
Prior to his arrival at UNC Asheville, Williams coached at Watauga High School in Boone from 1994-2005 where he was the head coach for indoor track and assistant coach for the outdoor team.
Ten of his indoor athletes won 4-A state championships, and he guided the 1997 girls' team to the program's first state title. Williams also oversaw the development of 12 state champions outdoors. Watauga captured three straight state girls' outdoors titles (1995-97), while the boys' outdoors squads at the state championships tied for 3rd in 1997 and was runner-up in 2000.
The Pioneers were dominant at the conference level, with the boys and girls teams each winning eight straight league championships during his 12 seasons at the school.
Former Watauga athletes whose careers Williams influenced achieved noteworthy success beyond their Pioneer days:
Brenda Taylor: 400mH NCAA Champion while attending Harvard. Seventh place finisher in that event for the U.S. in the 2004 Olympics at Athens, Greece. Her time of 53.36 was fifth-best in the world that year. She also earned a bronze medal in the 2003 World Indoor Championships as a member of the U.S. 4x400 relay team. While at Watauga, Taylor won nine individual and relay state titles. Williams helped design her weight program for the 2004 Olympics.
Lindsay Taylor: Brenda's twin sister, won two NC state high jump titles and set a lifetime PR her senior year of 5-11.5. She was 2nd in that event in the USATF Junior Nationals Championships, 4th in the Pan Am Junior Championships in Cuba and ranked 3rd nationally in 1997 as voted by Track and Field News. She later qualified 2x for the NCAA championships in the heptathlon.
Abraham Morlu: Coached by Williams from his freshman year at Watauga to a spot on his country's 4x100m relay team for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, while a freshman at UNC-Charlotte. He also made the Liberian relay team for the 2001 and 2003 World Championships. Williams coached state champions in the 100m hurdles, 300m hurdles, 800m, 4 x 400m relay, 4 x 800m relay (a then state record) and high jump.
Williams is a 2004 graduate of Appalachian State with a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion with minors in Exercise Science and Sociology. He is a USATF level II certified coach in both Sprints/Hurdles/Relays and the Throws. He holds a USAW (U.S.A Weightlifting Federation) Club Coach Certification for and coaching Olympic lifts.