By: Roman Parham
Britton Wilson the fire footed track athlete, currently running at the University of Arkansas, became the first athlete in NCAA history to win both the 400 meter dash and the 400 meter hurdles at the same meet, respectively. Wilson is also known for her record breaking third leg run for the team USA 4×400, at the World Athletic Championships. But before the gold medals, she was known by many as the girl who started running track at Godwin for fun.
During her freshman year at Godwin, she was introduced to Gene Scott, one of the first coaches that would usher her to success. After seeing Wilson run for the Coleman Middle School track team, Scott suggested she compete at the high school level for Godwin, despite her novice experience level. During those formative years, Wilson’s passion for track had not fully ignited yet. As she competed more and more, and sacrificed her other hobbies like cheerleading and gymnastics, that began to change.
By her senior year, Britton had compiled quite an impressive resume. As an All-Metro track athlete of the year, Gatorade athlete of the year, and winner of the USATF Junior Championship and New Balance Nationals, and a ten time Virginia State Champion, Wilson accredited her high school success to her hours of hard work put in with Coach Scott, and her mindset that consistent effort would eventually lead her to her goals.
But Wilson’s path to Track stardom was not always straightforward. She recalled her time during high school as being “hard to manage” with the pressure of her track aspirations and the other challenges of being a student athlete. Wilson sympathizes with the thought that it can be scary to reach out for help. She encourages Godwin’s new generation of student athletes to keep “being open to suggestions and people that can steer you in the right direction.” Wilson’s battles with mental health didn’t subside in high school, and was a major factor in her decision to transfer from the University of Tennessee to the University of Arkansas during her sophomore year.
Wilson described this decision as a “leap of faith”. Moving to a new school that had no guarantee for immediate success was nothing short of risky, but it would connect her with Coach Chris Johnson, current Arkansas track and field coach. “It would be those really intense workouts where I’m just crying at practice because I know that I’ve worked that hard,” said Wilson.
Her training intensity has changed along with her approach to the sport in general. Wilson has learned to deal with the nerves and pressure that once afflicted her during her years at Godwin.
In June of 2022, Wilson ran the third leg in the 4×400 women’s relay for team USA at the World Athletic Championships held in Eugene, OR. Wilson ran alongside gold medalist Sydney Mclaughlin and Delilah Mohammed. Wilson put on a masterclass performance breaking her previous record for the event with a 53.08 second split before handing off the baton to Sydney Mclaughlin. Wilson said it was “nerve wracking” to run alongside her star studded team of track stars and proven legends. “Being around them, you can really tell how focused they are when you’re all in the room.” Said Wilson.
Wilson is now shifting her focus to the Olympic games which will be held in Paris in 2024. Her training has gotten more rigorous and her schedule allows for her to spend most of her days on the track, training for 2 to 3 hours in preparation for her Olympic debut. “I am pretty much at the track all day after classes and eating, I just come back to the track.” Said Wilson. Wilson’s continuous hard work on the track has been influential in her evolution as an athlete.” But now I have that confidence that I didn’t have in high school and I think that’s definitely made a difference for me.”