IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Joe Williams has experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows during the first sixth months of 2002.
He's looking to reach the top again this weekend.
Williams is the No. 1 seed at 163 pounds at this weekend's U.S. World Team Trials for Wrestling in St. Paul, Minn., and is considered one of the United States' top hopes at the World Championships in Tehran, Iran, in September.
But first things first.
"I'm really taking it one tournament at a time," said Williams, an assistant coach at the University of Iowa and a former three-time NCAA champ for the Hawkeyes. "Anything can happen, anything is possible. My next big goal is making the World team."
Williams is eager to start wrestling _ to shake off the rust from months of training and to get his mind off losing a brother.
This year started well for Williams. He and his wife, Kimberly, welcomed their first child _ a son, Kaleb _ in March, just before the Hawkeyes battled Minnesota at the NCAA Championships in Albany, N.Y.
He also was named a full-time assistant at Iowa, replacing Lincoln McIlravy. On the wrestling mat, he won a national freestyle title, giving him the No. 1 seed and a bye through the mini-tournament this weekend.
But tragedy struck last month. Williams' older brother, Steve, was visiting from Chicago when he collapsed and died outside Joe's house in Coralville. He had a massive asthma attack.
Steve Williams, 29, was a big fan of Joe and their younger brother, T.J.
"For a while I really didn't want to do anything," Williams said. "I'd just sit around and think about the whole situation."
Then he'd look in Kaleb's eyes.
"I'd like for him to see me compete," he said.
It didn't take long for Williams to get back in the wrestling room, dreaming of World and Olympic titles.
"I've had some great people get me back on track," he said. "You can't let your life stop."
Williams will think about his brother this weekend.
"I use it for extra motivation for personal reasons," he said. "He would have wanted me to keep wrestling and succeed."
Williams also is motivated by the fact that he's 27 and "I have a short time frame left in wrestling.
"I'm getting older," he said with a laugh. "Things aren't as easy as they used to be."
Williams has come close to reaching his ultimate goals. He placed third in the World Championships last year after a fourth-place finish in 1999.
He is a three-time World Cup champion.
"I feel like I'm right there," he said. "I had a couple of minor setbacks. Those things helped me get refocused. But I haven't really turned the corner yet."
That could change, starting this weekend.
A gold medal in St. Paul would put Williams on track to win that elusive World Championship.
And the 2004 Olympics aren't that far away.
"I want to accomplish that before I give up wrestling," he said.