By Jeff Berlinicke
February 7, 2006
Wills has a work ethic that is envied by any track coach in the state. He’s the first one on the track and the last one off. He does it because he enjoy, of all things, the pain.
“I love the pain I feel when I run,” Wills said. “The pain is addicting. I live for it.”
Wills has experienced the pain in the past year. He suffered tendonitis last year and tried to cut back on his workouts leading up to the outdoor season, but the pain prevented him from being in the best possible shape and he struggled all spring, never living up to what he considered his potential.
He kept with his regimen all summer and stayed relatively pain-free whether he liked it or not, and finished second in the Class 4A cross county meet last fall, just behind senior Justin Harbor of Flagler Palm Coast and ahead of rival Aaron Kindt from Boone. With his tendonitis gone and his strength back, Wills hopes to make a major impact at states this spring in the 1,600, the 3,200, and the 4×800 meter relay.
“I was just never in shape last year,” Wills said. “I never qualified for what I wanted in the spring, but I know I should have. I started working out too much rather than not enough.”
Plasencia said his biggest problem is keeping Wills off the track.
“He’s the most driven athlete I have ever seen,” said Plasencia, the Colonial track coach for five years.
“When I first saw him, I was working out a the YMCA and I saw him. He was 11 at the time. He was absolutely killing the treadmill. I knew whoever got him would get the most unbelievable runner. I never thought it would be me.”
Wills started taking running seriously in middle school and Plasencia followed his progress. Wills has been a fixture on the Colonial team since ninth grade, but started to make serious strides last season before injuries set in.
“My biggest problem has always been holding him back,” Plasencia said. “He just never stops working.”
Despite the injury, Wills kept at it. He ran a 4:27 in the 1,600 at the conference and the same time at districts although he says he was capable of better. Last summer, he and his teammates joined runners from Boone High School for a trip to Colorado where they ran for hours at a time preparing for this season. After his second place finish in states, Wills was asked to do a 3,200 at the end of cross country season. He turned in a 9:45.
With another two seasons of outdoor and one last cross country season, Wills has his sights set on putting up numbers that will keep the colleges calling. He’d like to run for Florida or Florida State, and grades won’t be a problem. He’s a 3.9 student, which shows he’s as driven in the classroom as he is on the track.
He is also looking forward to next fall when he should be the favorite to win the 4A cross country championship with the graduation of Harbor.
“I want to challenge for a state title before I graduate,” Wills said. “That’s my goal and my dream.”
He’s willing to work for the dream no matter how much pain it costs. He doesn’t mind it a bit.