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The Pursuit for Paris: A De Pere man in the running for a spot on Team USA

Posted at 5:32 PM, Jun 20, 2024

DE PERE (NBC 26) — A pursuit for Paris. A runner from De Pere is heading to the Olympic Trials for a chance to represent Team USA in the Summer Olympics.

  • De Pere native Davian Willems will be running at the Olympic trials in Oregon for a chance to earn a spot on Team USA for the Summer Olympics.
  • Trials begin Saturday evening and wrap up on Sunday.
  • Willems shares his story of success, challenges and the perseverance towards his ultimate goal.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story.)

"I still can't believe where I'm going and what I'm about to do," said Davian Willems.

Early Thursday morning, Davian Willems prepared to catch a flight, that will get him closer to his biggest dreams.

"Everyone dreams of the Olympics and stuff like that but I set out a path to do it and here I am," said Willems.

That path for Willems features two All-America national runner up medals, school records set for the indoor 60-meter dash, and the 100-meter dash at UW-Oshkosh as a sophomore.

"It just feels amazing to be able to represent my team on such a big stage really," said Willems.

Willems said his passion for track started at West De Pere high school.

"A lot of old and good memories," said Willems. "It was a lot of trial and error. I've had a couple of injuries."

Injuries that became mental hurdles going into last season.

"The biggest thing I had to change, was my form so I pretty much had to re-learn how to run," said Willems.

Willems said it was a slow, detailed progression that led to a strong finish to the 2024 season and qualifying him for the top-36 runners accepted for the Olympic trials.

He'll also be joined by Oshkosh-native Sam Blaskowski who runs at UW-La Crosse.

"I kind of knew I'd get in but I was still nervous until declarations," Willems said. "It was just a sigh of relief once I got in."

Trials are held at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon.

He'll be joined by his parents and UW-Oshkosh track and field head coach Justin Kinseth.

"We've been daydreaming about this thing and the fact that it's coming to fruition is just simply a testament to his hard work and his effort and his discipline," said Kinseth.

That support, Willems said, that's been with him on his journey to the big stage.

"A lot of the time my focus was on just surviving the race and not exactly going out there and giving it my all and enjoying it," said Willems. "I want to go to the Olympic trials this year, give it my all, with a smile on my face and be happy with the results."

Willems said the flight to Oregon will give him more time to mentally prepare for what he calls one of the biggest races in his life.

Trials begin Saturday at 6:30 p.m. PT. Semi-finals and the finals will take place on Sunday.