Will Lawrence, The Unlikely Record Breaker


First impressions don’t always tell you the truth. John Smith, the head track coach at George Fox remembers the first time he met Will Lawrence face to face. Will was coming to visit campus for the first time and John was waiting for him on the track. As would fit the mold of a typical 400 and 800 meter runner, John was looking for someone taller than six foot and didn’t recognize the much shorter Will at first glance.

Now a junior, Will Lawrence is one of the most talented athletes to ever don the Bruins uniform. He’s a force on the track with a 1:53.45 in the 800 meter – that’s the second fastest time in NCAA Division III indoor track right now. You’d never know it from a first impression. Because as ferocious as Will is on the track, he’s equally as modest about his achievements.

Though he’s in the middle of his indoor season, he smiles when he talks about his goal for his upcoming outdoor track season: “This season I really want to go for the [outdoor] school record. It’s 1:50.00 by Todd Bos,” he admits. We’re excited to watch him do it.

You might think that shooting for such a daunting goal is rather unattainable, especially since running two laps in less than 1:50 is rather uncommon at the Division III level. However, Will just recently broke the record for the top 800 meter indoor mark at George Fox with a time of 1:51.85; that’s only two seconds away from his outdoor goal.

Will wasn’t always sure about his track goals coming in to college, or whether or not he should even participate in the sport. “I was a 400 meter runner in high school so when I came here, I talked to John Smith about switching to the 800. I really just wanted to try something new.”

Will also decided to try his hand at athletic training and allied health, something he also was unsure of at one point during his time here at George Fox.

“Honestly when I first came to school it was just a shot in the dark,” he noted. “But I actually really do enjoy it. I’m hoping to go into physical therapy. It’s really interesting learning the processes of the human body and how you can rehabilitate people from an injury.”

Though Will calls out the whole Athletic Training staff for helping him balance his double role on the field, there’s been one faculty that’s had an especially big impact on him. “Byron Shenk has had a really big influence on me,” said the hopeful physical therapist with a laugh. “Just seeing the way he lives his life with all of the kindness he shows to everyone that he meets… his faith is such a strong point in his life and he’s really a great role model for me.”

Will Lawrence proves first impressions to be false. You certainly don’t have to be six foot to break school track records. This track star will have great stories to tell and encouragements to give his physical therapy clients someday.