Tri-Center’s Williams, a top-rated, two-time defending champion, edged No. 2 Grant Henderson of Alburnett 3-2 in a highly anticipated quarterfinal on Thursday morning, then returned to beat No. 8 Kain Queck of Nodaway Valley 3-0 in the semifinals.
In the Henderson victory, Williams couldn’t finish a shot late in the second period and trailed 1-0 heading to the third. He evened things on an escape at the 1:25 mark, and then made the play of the match.
With 29 seconds left, he fired in on a double-leg and converted for a 3-1 advantage. Williams gave up an escape, but held off Henderson for the victory.
"I could just see he was reaching up with the head, reaching up with the head,’’ Williams said. "I just lowered and went.’"
Williams has a chance to join some select company. Entering Saturday, only 78 athletes have won three state championships. Two of them, Creston/Orient-Macksburg’s Jake Marlin and Denver-Tripoli’s Brandon Sorensen, will try to climb the ladder to join the 21 who have four titles.
Williams also is bidding to become only the second Western Iowa Conference athlete to win three crowns, following Riverside’s Jimmy Rodgers (1995-97).
He said one reason he’s back in his third state championship match is that he never assumes anything.
"I always respect the guy,’’ he said. "I always have a little bit of worry in me.’’
After a hard-fought win over Queck, Williams said he was ready to get back to the hotel.
"Play some video games, sleep,’’ he said, adding that Call of Duty and NCAA Football likely will be the games of choice.
Williams will meet No. 3 junior Cody Nelson of North Butler (48-0) in the finals. ...