Track & Field Celebrates Anniversary of '87 Champs
BATON ROUGE – The LSU Track & Field teams kicked off Friday’s third-annual Team Awards and Alumni Recognition Banquet with a special celebration of the 25th anniversary for their first team of Lady Tigers to be crowned national champions during the 1987 indoor and outdoor seasons.
Sam Seemes, Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, delivered the keynote address as the head coach of LSU’s 1987 national championship team, while also sharing his memories of the women who gave rise to the premier program in college athletics.
The 1987 Lady Tigers own the distinction as the first women’s team in collegiate history to win a national championship on their home track as the 1987 NCAA Outdoor Championships were held in Baton Rouge at LSU’s historic Bernie Moore Track Stadium. The Lady Tigers scored a total of 62 points in capturing a nine-point victory over SEC rival and NCAA Outdoor runner-up Alabama.
With their victory, the 1987 Lady Tigers sparked one of the dominating runs in collegiate history, as LSU went on to claim 11-straight NCAA Outdoor team titles from 1987-97.
LSU’s string of 11-straight wins at the NCAA Outdoor Championships remains unmatched by any other women’s program in college athletics. The second-longest national championship run by a women’s team is nine-straight titles by the North Carolina women’s soccer team from the 1986-94 seasons.
It is only fitting that LSU Track & Field celebrates the silver anniversary of the first NCAA championship team for a women’s program that has now captured 25 national championships in its history. The Lady Tigers have actually claimed 16 more national championships than the second-leading program in NCAA history as the Texas Longhorns follow with nine team titles all-time at the NCAA Championships.
“Celebrating the 25th anniversary of our 1987 national championship team was certainly a highlight of our banquet this year,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “The tradition and history that is synonymous with our program started with these incredible women and the foundation they built for us.
“We’re honored that so many of these women joined us as part of this year’s banquet in recognition of the special place they hold in the history of LSU athletics and our sport of track and field.”
The 1987 Lady Tigers were a star-studded group that featured four individual NCAA event champions for their collegiate careers and four Olympians as some of the world’s premier track and field athletes.
Lady Tiger great Sheila Echols is certainly one of the NCAA’s most enduring athletes as she was honored as the NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor long jump champion while leading the Lady Tigers to their first sweep of national championships during the 1987 season. Her winning jump of 22 feet, 9 ½ inches during the outdoor season remains a school record, SEC record and NCAA Outdoor meet record to this day.
Echols went on to represent the United States in two Olympic Games following her collegiate career as an LSU standout. She became the first Lady Tiger in program history to win an Olympic gold medal as the second leg of the winning 4×100-meter relay team in Seoul, South Korea, in 1988 before competing in the long jump for the United States in Barcelona, Spain, in 1992.
Laverne Eve joined Echols in winning an NCAA event title at the 1987 NCAA Outdoor Championship as she struck gold in the women’s javelin. Her collegiate-best throw of 204-9 set in taking the SEC title back in 1987 has stood as the LSU school record in the event for the past 25 seasons.
Eve has enjoyed one of the long-standing careers in track and field as she still competes to this day for her native Bahamas in major international competitions. She owns the most international experience of any LSU athlete in history with a trip to five Olympic Games and eight World Championships since 1987.
After finishing in fourth place in the 400-meter hurdles and sixth place in the 100-meter hurdles in LSU’s win at the 1987 NCAA Outdoor Championships, Schowonda Williams later won the 1988 NCAA Outdoor title in the 400 hurdles as one of the team’s all-time greats in the event. She later competed in the event for Team USA at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
Williams also teamed with the likes of Sylvia Brydson, Wendy Truvillion and Danyel Wofford in earning the NCAA Indoor title in the 4×400-meter relay to cap their first championship of the 1987 season.
Following her freshman season in 1987, Tananjalyn Stanley later became one of the NCAA’s dominant sprint hurdlers as she twice claimed a national title with the NCAA Indoor crown in the 55-meter hurdles, and the NCAA Outdoor crown in the 100-meter hurdles during her junior season in 1989.
In addition, Kym Carter was an NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor All-American in the high jump during her one and only season with the Lady Tigers in 1987, as well as the sixth-place finisher nationally and an All-American in the heptathlon at the 1987 NCAA Outdoor Championships. She later competed for Team USA in the heptathlon at the 1992 Olympics held in Barcelona.
Among the 12 team members of the 1987 national championship team attending Friday’s 25th anniversary celebration were Brydson, Carter, Echols, Stanley, Truvillion, Williams, Jackie Bobien, Camille Cato, Opal Cunningham, Julie Harris, Michele Morris and Leslie Nixon. Joining Seemes as a member of LSU’s coaching staff was Kirk Bovill, who served as a volunteer assistant coach in 1987.
Other team members who were unable to attend Friday’s banquet along with Eve and Wofford include the likes of Zina Age, Andrea Bush, Cheryl Coker, Claire Connor, Kathi Harris, Lisa Reed, Theresa Williford and Tammie Young.