When Dennis Shaver ascended to the rank of head coach of the LSU Track & Field program in July 2004, he took the reins of a national power recognized worldwide for its dominance at the collegiate level while racking up a total of 30 NCAA team championships in its history.
Expectations were high, but Shaver had experienced LSU’s success first-hand as he helped coach LSU to a combined 12 national championships while serving as an assistant coach for nine seasons from 1996-2004. It came as no surprise when he was asked to continue LSU’s championship tradition when the position opened in the wake of the 2004 season.
The women were crowned national champions during the 2008 outdoor season and have won a total of seven Southeastern Conference championships during his tenure. While sweeping SEC Indoor and SEC Outdoor titles in 2008 and 2011, the women’s team has also captured outdoor conference title during the 2007, 2010 and 2012 seasons. Most recently, the men’s squad won the 2019 SEC outdoor title marking the first outdoor conference title for the men since 1990.
The men’s team reached the pinnacle of collegiate track and field during the outdoor season of 2021 under Shaver as the team scored 84 points en route to a dominant victory. LSU led the event wire-to-wire and won a total of six event titles at the national meet, the most since Ohio State won seven in 1936. JuVaughn Harrison (x2), Sean Burrell, Tzuriel Pedigo, Terrance Laird, and the 4×100 meter relay won national titles. LSU’s 31 point margin of victory was the largest winning margin since Arkansas won by 38 points in 1994.
The women’s team has also added 12 trophy performances with top-four finishes at the NCAA Championships in 17 previous seasons under Shaver’s guidance, including three second-place finishes, seven third-place finishes and one fourth-place finish along with their national championship in 2008.
The men have added to their trophy case as well while racking up 17 team trophies with a top-four finish at the NCAA Championships as they have earned six second-place finishes, two third-place finishes and eight fourth-place finishes between the indoor and outdoor seasons along with their national championship in 2021.
In all, Shaver’s teams have combined for 33 top-three finishes at the SEC Championships and 29 top-four finishes at the NCAA Championships between the indoor and outdoor seasons going back to his debut season as LSU’s head coach in 2005.
The 2021 season was an immensely successful one in all stages. The program captured three NCAA trophies and had five athletes be recognized by The Bowerman. JuVaughn Harrison and Tonea Marshall were on The Bowerman Watch List all season long, while Noah Williams, Terrance Laird, and Sean Burrell made cameos on the watch list for the most prestigious award in collegiate track and field. Harrison was named a finalist for The Bowerman July 14, 2021.
Harrison established himself as one of the greatest jumpers in collegiate history during 2021 as he captured four NCAA titles and three SEC titles in a season that won’t soon be forgotten. He also pulled off the double at the U.S. Olympic Trials and won gold in both the long jump and high jump and became the first man to represent the United States at the Olympics in both the high jump and the long jump since Jim Thorpe did so in 1912.
Tonea Marshall continued her rise into one of the world’s most elite hurdlers with a career best of 12.44 seconds, a time that finished the 2021 season ranked No. 3 in the world. Marshall won the SEC title in the 100 meter hurdles and didn’t lose a race all season in the hurdles. Unfortunately, a hamstring strain in the finals of the 4×100 meter relay at the NCAA Championships – about 45 minutes before the finals of the 100m hurdles – prevented her from running for a NCAA title.
Laird pulled off the SEC sprint triple with wins in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and 4×100 meter including a SEC meet record of 19.82 seconds. He PR’d with a time of 19.81 seconds in the 200 meters at the Texas Relays to become the third fastest performer in collegiate history over the distance. His 20.5 points at the NCAA Outdoor Championships earned him High Point Scorer of the Meet honors.
The future is bright for LSU as NCAA individual champions Sean Burrell, Lisa Gunnarsson, Noah Williams, and Tzuriel Pedigo return for the 2022 season. Burrell won the 400 meter hurdle title at the NCAA Championships with a world U20 record of 47.85 seconds that ranks as the No. 7 time in the world in 2021. Gunnarsson became the first woman in LSU history to win a NCAA pole vault title in 2021; she swept the indoor and outdoor pole vault titles to become the first woman since 2010 to achieve that feat at the NCAA level. Williams ran the fourth fastest time in world history over the distance of 400 meters to win his first career NCAA title with a time of 44.71; his outdoor PR of 44.30 ended the 2021 campaign ranked No. 7 in the world. Pedigo set the LSU school record on his sixth and final attempt at the NCAA Championships to win his first career NCAA title with a heave of 252’ 7” (76.98 meters).
When all was said and done at the end of the 2021 season, LSU had brought home 12 NCAA event titles (five indoors, seven outdoors). Following the collegiate season, LSU has 12 current/former athletes qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and six medals were won. Mondo Duplantis (pole vault), Michael Cherry (4x400m relay), and Vernon Norwood (4x400m relay) all won gold; Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (4x100m relay) and Aleia Hobbs (4x100m relay) won silver, and Norwood also claimed bronze on Team USA’s 4×400 meter mixed relay.
Shaver had both the women’s and men’s teams primed for national championship runs during the indoor season of 2020 as both were ranked No. 1 in the nation headed into the NCAA Championships. On March 12, 2020, one day before competition was set to begin, the NCAA announced the cancellation for all championship events for the rest of the 2020 academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shaver was named the 2020 NCAA Division I Women’s Indoor National Coach of the Year on March 27 by the USTFCCCA; it is the third time in his career that he has been named National Coach of the Year. Shaver had the women’s team ranked No. 1 in the nation for four straight weeks headed into the NCAA meet as the favorite to win it all. LSU had an NCAA leading 13 scoring opportunities and Tonea Marshall (60m hurdles) and Abby O’Donoghue (high jump) were legitimate contenders to win individual national titles.
Shaver had seven other women and a relay that were ranked inside the top eight of the NCAA rankings and projected to score points at the national meet. The women set 13 top-10 LSU marks during the 2020 indoor season including school records by Marshall (60m hurdles/7.86) and O’Donoghue (high jump/6’ 2.25”).
Shaver was also a finalist for the 2020 NCAA Division I Men’s Indoor National Coach of the Year as his team had 10 entries with scoring chances at the NCAA meet. Entering into the NCAA meet, Shaver had the men’s squad ranked No. 1 in the USTFCCCA rankings indoors; it was only the second time in program history that the men had earned a No. 1 ranking during the indoor season. Terrance Laird (200m dash) was the NCAA leader in his event with a career best time of 20.43, a time that ranks No. 2 in LSU history. The LSU men registered 11 top-10 marks in the LSU record book.
LSU athletes in 2020 under the direction of Shaver racked up a total of 29 All-America awards from 21 athletes to rank as the second most in the nation. An identical number of LSU athletes earned All-SEC honors including SEC champions Lisa Gunnarsson (pole vault), JuVaughn Harrison (high jump), Tonea Marshall (60m hurdles) and Terrance Laird (200m dash). Both the women’s and men’s teams registered second place finishes at the SEC meet in College Station. Marshall and Laird both earned USTFCCCA Track Athlete of the Year honors in the South Central region as well.
Tonea Marshall and JuVaughn Harrison were mainstays on The Bowerman Watch List throughout the indoor season as well with three appearances by Harrison and two by Marshall. Entering the 2020 NCAA Indoor Championships, LSU was the only program in America to have more than one athlete recognized by The Bowerman.
The 2019 season was a banner year for the men’s and women’s squads with the men taking third indoors at the NCAA meet, and the women taking third at the NCAA finale outdoors. All in all, Shaver produced four first-time national champions during the 2019 season that claimed a total of five titles. JuVaughn Harrison became the first man in history to sweep the long jump and high jump titles at the NCAA outdoor meet. Sha’Carri Richardson became only the third freshman in NCAA history to win the 100 meter dash title as she ran a collegiate record of 10.75 seconds in the finals to claim the top spot. With Richardson’s time, Shaver has now coached two of the three fastest 100 meter sprinters in NCAA history (Richardson – 10.75, Hobbs – 10.85). At the NCAA indoor meet, Rayvon Grey (long jump) and Mondo Duplantis (pole vault) secured the first national titles of their careers to boost the LSU men to a third-place finish. Duplantis, only a freshman, set both the indoor (5.92m/19’ 5”) and outdoor (6.00m/19’ 8.25”) collegiate pole vault records.
Richardson became LSU’s second winner of The Bowerman on Dec. 19, 2019 joining the likes of Kimberlyn Duncan (2012); she was the first freshman to ever win the award. Richardson’s coming out party was the outdoor NCAA Championships in which she racked up a total of 20 points – the most points scored by any athlete at the meet – along with a plethora a national and U20 records. Her 10.75 that she ran in the finals of the 100 meter dash was the ninth fastest in world history, No. 5 by an American, a U20 world record, and the aforementioned collegiate record. She took silver in the finals of the 200 meters with a PR of 22.17 that ranked No. 2 in U20 world history behind Allyson Felix and it serves as the fifth-fastest time in collegiate history. Richardson also anchored the 4×100 meter relay to silver at the NCAA Championships with a time of 42.29. A month prior at the SEC Championships, Richardson became the first freshman in conference history to sweep the 100 meter dash, 200 meter dash, and run on a 4×100 meter relay title winning team.
Duplantis’ appearance as a finalist for The Bowerman was due in large part thanks to two collegiate records and one national title during his freshman season. Duplantis went 8-1 in pole vault finals between the indoor and outdoor season that saw him claim SEC indoor/outdoor titles and the NCAA indoor title. He set both of his indoor and outdoor collegiate records at the SEC Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas. In February, Duplantis soared over a bar of 5.92 meters (19’ 5.00”) to set the collegiate record; in May, he became the first collegiate athlete to clear 6.00 meters in the pole vault with a collegiate record of 6.00 meters (19’ 8.25”). Mondo finished runner-up at the NCAA outdoor meet. With Duplantis and Richardson being finalists, it is the first time in the history of The Bowerman that one school has had two freshman finalists.
The highlight of the 2019 season may have very well been the men’s SEC outdoor title. It was LSU’s first time as outdoor men’s conference champions since 1990. Led by individual titles by JuVaughn Harrison (high jump), Christian Miller (triple jump) and Mondo Duplantis (pole vault), the Tigers racked up 105 points to secure the SEC title. The men’s 4×100 meter relay won the SEC title for the fourth-straight year as well with a time of 38.85. The women’s squad in the 4×100 meter relay also claimed gold with a readout of 42.93 to make them the winners of four straight SEC titles in the event as well. Combine those two relays and nobody in the SEC has won gold in the 4×100 meter relay besides LSU dating back to 2016.
All of these accomplishments earned Shaver SEC Men’s Coach of the Year outdoors and USTFCCCA South Central Men’s Coach of the Year accolades for the outdoor season. Three of his athletes – Sha’Carri Richardson, Mondo Duplantis, JuVaughn Harrison – combined to rack up a total of six primetime awards. Mondo won the USTFCCCA Indoor Field Athlete of the Year prize, while JuVaughn Harrison picked up the same award outdoors. Sha’Carri Richardson was the SEC Freshman Track Athlete of the Year and the USTFCCCA Track Athlete of the Year outdoors. Mondo swept the SEC Field Athlete of the Year honors both indoors and outdoors.
Over the 2017 and 2018 season, Shaver guided the most lauded 4×100 meter relay in NCAA history as his squad went on to set six of the top eight times in NCAA history. Mikiah Brisco and Kortnei Johnson were mainstays on the most illustrious sprint relay to ever circle the track on the collegiate level; the other two legs of the relay consisted of a combination of Aleia Hobbs, Rachel Misher and Jada Martin.
On a cool, rainy day at the 2018 NCAA Championships the foursome of Brisco, Johnson, Misher and Hobbs completed the three-exchange race in 42.25 seconds, .81 seconds faster than the runner-up Oregon (43.06), to cement themselves as the greatest sprint relay in collegiate history; it was LSU’s NCAA-leading 15th title in the event. Two days prior in the preliminaries, the same group clocked an NCAA meet record of 42.09 seconds.
The fastest time to ever be run by a women’s 4×100 meter relay team came on a steamy Sunday afternoon at the Tom Black Track in Knoxville, Tenn., on the final day of the 2018 SEC Championships. The aforementioned same four lined up and clocked a collegiate-record setting time of 42.05 to claim the SEC title in astonishing fashion. All in all, the women’s 4×100 meter relay squad of 2018 went 10-0 en route to an undefeated season.
Hobbs broke out individually in 2018 as well with NCAA sprint titles in the 60 meters and 100 meters. She followed that up with a gold-medal performance in the 100 meter dash at the USATF Outdoor Championships in late June. Hobbs was unblemished in her primary events (100 meters and 4×100 meter relay) during the outdoor slate as she went a combined 15-0 between those two events.
Hobbs’ national title in the 60 meter dash in early March at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships was completed in fine fashion as she matched the collegiate record with a time of 7.07. During the outdoor national meet, Hobbs sprinted to her national title with a time of 11.01 into a headwind, which was the fastest NCAA time ever run into a headwind. At the conclusion of her collegiate career, Hobbs owns five of the top eight wind-legal 100 meter dashes in NCAA history. Her fastest time of the 2018 season was a 10.90 at the NCAA East Preliminaries. The fastest time of her career came in 2017 at the SEC Relays when she clocked a time of 10.85 seconds. Hobbs garnered a number of awards as she was named the 2018 USTFCCCA Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year, a semifinalist for The Bowerman, the winner of the Corbett Award, and the South Central Region Runner of the Year.
Shaver led the women to sixth-place finishes indoors and outdoors at the national meets in 2018; it was the best combined finishes by the women since 2013. The women’s squad almost claimed its first SEC outdoor title since 2012 with a second-place showing in 2018 as they used a last-day charge of 88.5 points to give eventual league champions, Florida (91 points), a run for their money. Shaver has led the women to eight top-two finishes at the outdoor conference meet over the past 12 seasons, including five SEC titles.
Shaver guided the men’s squad to an eighth-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships on the heels of a balanced scoring effort from a multitude of scorers that are set to return to the squad in 2019. Of the 28 points scored by his squad in 2018, 25.5 of them return to don the Purple and Gold in 2018.
Shaver saw two freshmen, Damion Thomas (110 meter hurdles) and Jake Norris (hammer throw), secure bronze finishes at their first ever NCAA outdoor meet. Norris launched the hammer a school-record distance of 73.24 meters (240-3) to claim his medal, and Thomas registered the second-fastest 110-meter hurdle time in program history (13.44) in the finals to claim third and finish only .02 seconds away from a national title. Jaron Flournoy (200m/20.26) and Rayvon Grey (long jump/7.96m) finished fourth in their respective events and the 4×400 meter relay (Jahnoy Thompson, Correion Mosby, Renard Howell, Flournoy) closed out the meet with a third-place finish with the fourth-fastest time in program history, a 3:00.55.
Shaver’s squads built upon their proud tradition in 2016 as he coached LSU’s men and women to four NCAA relay titles with their performance at the NCAA Championships.
Not only were the Tigers crowned NCAA Champions in the 4×100-meter relay during the outdoor season, but they also won NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor championships in the 4×400-meter relay to prove themselves as the deepest sprint squad in the country.
LSU lined up one of the most prolific sprint relay teams in collegiate history a year ago, culminating with a record-setting victory at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships where Jaron Flournoy, Renard Howell, Tremayne Acy and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake teamed for the Hayward Field facility record at the University of Oregon with a time of 38.42 seconds in the NCAA final.
Their victory at the NCAA Championships came just weeks after smashing Texas A&M’s SEC Championships meet record as they ran the eighth-fastest time in collegiate history at 38.33 in the final.
The 2016 SEC Outdoor Championships at the University of Alabama was also the site of one of the most impressive displays in the history of the meet as Mitchell-Blake also swept SEC 100-meter and 200-meter titles while emerging as one of the world’s bright young stars with his performance.
It was his victory in the 200-meter final that sent shockwaves across the country and around the world as he crushed the field with a wind-legal 19.95 to become the seventh-fastest sprinter in collegiate history in the event. Mitchell-Blake, who was just a split-second shy of John Regis’ British record of 19.94, used his performance during the collegiate season as catalyst for making his Olympics debut with Team GB where he lined up in the 200-meter semifinals in Rio de Janeiro.
The Tigers also fielded the deepest stable of 400-meter runners during the 2016 season as Fitzroy Dunkley, Michael Cherry, LaMar Bruton and Cyril Grayson won NCAA titles during both the indoor and outdoor seasons as the nation’s leading 4×400-meter relay team. They even established themselves as one of the top teams in collegiate history with a seasonal best of 3 minutes, 0.38 seconds last outdoor season.
Dunkley later made his Olympics debut with Jamaica as he added an Olympic silver medal in the relay to his title as 2016 NCAA Outdoor Silver Medalist in the 400-meter dash.
Cherry proved to be one of the NCAA’s leading 400-meter runners a year ago in his own right as he was the NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor bronze medalist with his performance. He followed a brilliant collegiate season by running his PR of 44.81 in the semifinals at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
The 2016 season also saw the women win their 14th NCAA Championship in school history in the 4×100-meter relay, which helped clinch a sixth-place team finish at the national meet. Mikiah Brisco, Kortnei Johnson, Jada Martin and Rushell Harvey teamed to smash the Hayward Field record themselves with a winning 42.65 for the 11th-fastest time in collegiate history.
Brisco proved to be the team’s breakout performer as a sophomore in 2016 as she won four All-America honors and was crowned an SEC Champion three times on the season.
Brisco became the first woman in history to sweep SEC Indoor titles in the 60 meters and 60 hurdles in the same season en route to winning the SEC’s Cliff Harper Trophy as the top individual point scorer at the SEC Indoor Championships. She was later voted the SEC Women’s Indoor Runner of the Year by the league’s head coaches. That was just a prelude of what was to come at the 2016 NCAA Indoor Championships where she earned All-America honors as the NCAA Indoor Bronze Medalist in the 60 meters and was the fifth-place finisher in the 60 hurdles.
Vernon Norwood and the Tigers’ 4×400-meter relay team added to LSU’s national championship pedigree a season ago while accounting for three NCAA event titles to lead the team back among the nation’s elite once again in 2015.
Norwood was crowned the NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor Champion in the 400-meter dash to highlight a historic senior season at LSU. In his final season, Norwood became just the 14th sprinter in collegiate history to sweep NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor titles in the 400 meters (or 440 yards) in the same season while also anchoring the Tigers to a national championship in the mile relay outdoors.
He first clocked an indoor personal best and became the second-ranked LSU Tiger indoors in history with his winning run of 45.31 at the NCAA Indoor Championships to win his first national championship in the 400-meter dash. Norwood completed his NCAA-title sweep outdoors with a time of 45.10 in the national final to join the great Xavier Carter in 2006 as the only two Tigers to win both NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor titles in the event.
Norwood wrapped up a brilliant career by anchoring the Tigers to the national title in the 4×400-meter relay as he went out as a four-time NCAA Champion, eight-time All-American and nine-time All-SEC performer in just two seasons at LSU.
While emerging as one of the world’s top 400-meter sprinters after running a lifetime best of 44.44 at the LSU Alumni Gold that spring, Norwood followed the collegiate season by representing the United States at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing where he was crowned a World Champion as part of Team USA’s 4×400-meter relay team in his championship debut. He also captured a World Indoor title in the relay in 2016 after winning the U.S. Indoor crown in the 400 meters.
The LSU Track & Field program shined brightly in Beijing in the summer of 2015 as former Cassandra Tate also made her mark as one of the world’s great 400-meter hurdlers in bagging the bronze medal for the United States in her championship debut. Tate’s breakout 2015 season on the world stage with Shaver’s guidance saw her set her personal best of 54.02 earlier that season.
Despite missing out on her first World Championships while battling injuries late in her outdoor season, former standout Jasmin Stowers also emerged as one of the world’s top talents in the 100-meter hurdles in 2015 largely thanks to her training with Shaver in Baton Rouge.
Stowers, who was crowned a five-time SEC Champion and seven-time All-American in her career at LSU from 2011-14, took the world by storm with a series of personal bests last spring culminating with an IAAF Diamond League all-time record of 12.35 in Doha, Qatar. Stowers became the eighth-fastest 100 hurdler all-time and the fourth-fastest American in history with her performance.
The curtain closed on one of the storied careers in the history of collegiate track and field in 2013 when Kimberlyn Duncan stepped onto the track for the final time in an LSU uniform at the NCAA Championships in Oregon.
Duncan cemented her legacy as one of the all-time great sprinters when she tied the fastest all conditions 200 meters in collegiate history by running a wind-aided 22.04 to win a sixth national championship in the 200-meter dash in her career. Duncan’s performance tied the 23-year-old collegiate record of 22.04 set by LSU’s Dawn Sowell at the 1989 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Provo, Utah.
The Katy, Texas, product stepped into history as she swept NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor gold medals for the third-straight season to become the first sprinter in collegiate history to claim six national titles in the 200-meter dash at the NCAA level. Duncan matched that output at the conference level with a sweep of SEC Indoor and SEC Outdoor titles in the 200 meters for the third year in a row, even running an SEC Outdoor Championships meet record of 22.35 in her senior season in 2013.
Not only did Duncan match the fastest all conditions 200 meters in collegiate history as a senior, but she set the low-altitude collegiate record of 22.19 as a junior in 2012 in the NCAA semifinals. She ran three of the five fastest wind-legal times and five of the eight fastest all conditions times in NCAA history at the time as the most dominant 200-meter sprinter ever at the collegiate level.
Duncan earned the right to represent the United States on the international stage for the first time in her career in 2013 when she dropped her personal best of 21.80 in capturing her first career U.S. Outdoor title in the 200 meters to qualify for the IAAF World Championships in Athletics.
Duncan also earned a reputation as one of the world’s emerging talents in the 100-meter dash during her LSU career when she became just the fifth collegiate sprinter to break 11 seconds after setting the SEC Championships meet record of 10.96 in the 2012 conference final.
Winner of The Bowerman in 2012 as the top athlete in collegiate track and field, Duncan tied the school record with seven NCAA event titles and 12 SEC events titles in four seasons from 2010-13.
Like Duncan, Tate wrapped up the 2012 campaign as a national champion as she recorded her collegiate best of 55.22 to win the NCAA title in the 400-meter hurdles. She also helped the LSU win the national title in the 4×400-meter relay during the indoor season as she ran the second leg on a team that featured Rebecca Alexander, Siedda Herbert and Jonique Day as they claimed the 13th NCAA crown for the program in the event all-time with their victory.
Alexander, Tate and Day also joined leadoff leg Latoya McDermott on the team that set a new school record of 3:24.59 to finish as the national runners-up during the NCAA Outdoor Championships, marking the third-fastest 4×400-meter relay performance in NCAA history.
It was a 2012 season in which Shaver was honored as both the NCAA Division I Women’s Outdoor Coach of the year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association and the SEC Women’s Outdoor Coach of the Year in a vote of the league’s head coaches. Shaver has now twice been recognized as the National Coach of the Year and seven times named the SEC Coach of the Year.
Shaver has coached 57 athletes to 63 NCAA event titles in a celebrated career that spans 25 seasons at LSU. His athletes have also captured 164 SEC event titles and 569 All-America honors all-time.
LSU had been on the cusp of adding to its national championship collection in Shaver’s first four seasons as head coach as the teams combined for seven second-place team finishes at the NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor Championships, including four runner-up finishes for the men and three runner-up finishes for the women during that span.
But with his top team making the trip to Des Moines for the 2008 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Shaver knew LSU was a championship contender on both sides.
The meet unfolded just the way he had anticipated with the women’s race for the team title going down to the very last event of the weekend. The women were tied with defending champion Arizona State at 59 points with both teams advancing a team into the final of the 4×400 relay. The stage was set for a dramatic conclusion with the team crossing the finish line first taking the title.
The women carried the stick around the track in 3:28.33 to score eight points with a second-place finish in the race, while the Sun Devils were unable to keep pace with a fifth-place finish. The final score of the meet after 21 events read LSU 67, Arizona State 63.
Not only did the women capture their first national championship under Shaver, but the team won the 31st NCAA title in the history of the LSU Track & Field program nearly 75 years to the day that LSU won its first national championship way back on June 17, 1933. It proved to be a fitting end to a season that also saw women dominate the Southeastern Conference by sweeping SEC Indoor and SEC Outdoor championships for the first time under Shaver’s direction.
Considered one of the leading sprints and hurdles coaches in the sport, LSU’s athletes flourished under Shaver’s guidance once again as LSU made its presence felt throughout the 2008 season. Shaver coached the likes of LSU greats Kelly Baptiste and Nickiesha Wilson to NCAA event titles during their final season in the purple and gold, while he also coached Tiger sprint star Richard Thompson to one of the most prolific seasons in collegiate history.
Baptiste was the catalyst in LSU’s national championship run as she accounted for a team high 19 points at the NCAA Championships while becoming the fifth woman in program history to be crowned NCAA champion in the 100-meter dash. Wilson was equally as impressive at the NCAA Outdoor meet as she added 18 points with an NCAA crown in the 400-meter hurdles and a runner-up finish in the final of the 100-meter hurdles.
But no athlete dominated collegiate track and field in 2008 quite like Thompson. Arguably the greatest sprinter to ever wear the LSU uniform, Thompson became the first Tiger to sweep NCAA titles in the 60 and 100 meters in the same season while also running the second leg on LSU’s NCAA-title-winning 4×100-meter relay team. In addition, Thompson won All-America honors in the 200 meters with a runner-up finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships while being chosen as the NCAA Men’s Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year.
He became the first sprinter coached by Shaver to crack the 10-second barrier in the 100-meter dash with his victory at the SEC Outdoor Championships in Auburn, Alabama. Thompson’s 9.93 in the conference final set an SEC record and was the second-fastest time ever recorded at the collegiate level.
Thompson, who came to LSU from the country of Trinidad & Tobago with a personal record of 10.65 in the 100 meters, wrapped up his career in Baton Rouge as a four-time NCAA Champion, five-time SEC Champion and eight-time All-American under Shaver’s guidance.
Shaver coached Thompson to worldwide stardom at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing where he shocked the world by winning a silver medal in the final of the 100-meter dash while setting a new collegiate record with a time of 9.89. He finished second only to Jamaican world-record holder and gold medalist Usain Bolt. After anchoring Trinidad’s 4×100-meter relay to a gold medal, Thompson’s unforgettable season was complete.
While continuing to train in Baton Rouge following his collegiate career, Thompson dropped his 100-meter personal best with a Trinidad & Tobago national record of 9.82 that he set in winning the title at the 2014 Sagicor National Open Championships in Port-of-Spain.
While Thompson grabbed the headlines, he was not the only athlete coached by Shaver to line up at the Olympic Games in 2008. Former LSU hurdler and two-time World Indoor champion Lolo Jones made her Olympics debut with a seventh-place finish after winning the 100-meter hurdles at the U.S. Olympic Trials, while Baptiste (Trinidad and Tobago) and Sherry Fletcher (Grenada) ran the 100 meters and Wilson (Jamaica) and Isa Phillips (Jamaica) competed in the 400-meter hurdles.
Jones, who continues to train with Shaver in Baton Rouge, has become one of the recognizable faces in track and field as the world’s leading sprint hurdler. In becoming the first hurdler in meet history to win back-to-back World Indoor gold medals in the 60-meter hurdles at the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships, Jones became the new American record holder after setting a new personal best with a winning time of 7.72. Shaver has also coached Jones to a PR of 12.43 in the 100-meter hurdles she set in the semifinal round at the 2008 Olympic Games.
Jones made her return to the Olympic Games in London as she just missed earning a spot on the medal podium with a fourth-place finish in her second-straight Olympic final.
LSU carried its momentum into the 2009 season as Shaver again proved why he is one of the more respected coaches in the business while coaching two-sport star Trindon Holliday to his first career NCAA championship in the 100-meter dash.
After finishing as the national runner-up in 2007 and earning a third-place finish in 2008, Holliday enjoyed a season to remember as he became the third different Tiger in four years to be crowned the NCAA 100-meter champion. He sprinted to the finish line with a PR of 10.00 to continue LSU’s domination in the event. His victory in the NCAA 100-meter final followed a 2009 indoor season in which he earned his second national runner-up finish in the 60-meter dash at the NCAA Indoor meet.
But no athlete has dominated the sport with Shaver’s coaching quite like LSU great Xavier Carter did in 2006 as the Tiger sophomore captured four NCAA event titles at the NCAA Outdoor Championships held in Sacramento, California. Carter became the first collegiate athlete since Ohio State’s Jesse Owens in 1935 and 1936 to win four NCAA titles at a single national meet as he struck gold in the 100 meters, 400 meters, 4×100-meter relay and 4×400-meter relay. In his brief two-year career at LSU, Carter won an impressive seven individual national championships and 10 All-America honors as the only collegiate athlete in history to double with national titles in the 100 meters and 400 meters in the same year at the NCAA Championships.
In Shaver’s first season as head coach in 2005, Carter helped provide the foundation for the premier 4×400 relay teams in NCAA history that put an exclamation point onto the end of the collegiate season by setting a new collegiate record en route to a national championship.
LSU’s foursome of Reggie Dardar (46.4), Kelly Willie (44.4), Bennie Brazell (44.8) and Carter (44.0) clocked 2:59.59 in shattering the 17-year-old record of 2:59.91 set by UCLA in 1988. That national crown catapulted the Tigers to a third-place finish in the final team standings, an effort that was assisted by the national runner-up efforts by Carter in the 200-meter dash and Brazell in the 400-meter hurdles.
While he enters his 16th season as head coach, Shaver has enjoyed 25 tremendously successful seasons at LSU after joining the program as an assistant coach in August 1995.
Shaver is regarded as one of the premier coaches in the sport of track and field, and he has earned national recognition for his many accomplishments throughout his coaching career.
Not only was he named the NCAA Women’s Outdoor Coach of the Year by the USTFCCCA in 2008, 2012, and most recently, 2020, but he has also been named a seven-time SEC Women’s Coach of the Year during his tenure. In 2003, he was recognized by his peers as the first USTFCCCA Assistant Coach of the Year for Women’s Sprints and Hurdles. In addition, Shaver has received nine National Coach of the Year awards, six Kansas Collegiate Coach of the Year honors and 17 Regional Coach of the Year awards in his coaching career that spans 33 years.
Shaver is certified as a Level I, II and Master Coach by USA Track and Field and has been an instructor for the USATF Coaches Education curriculum of the sprint and hurdle events.
A native of Salina, Kansas, Shaver received a Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1979. In 1981, he added his master’s degree in education with an emphasis on administration from Stephen F. Austin State University.
Shaver and his wife, Connie, have two children. Their son, Dale, is an installer at Mike’s Audio in Baton Rouge and enjoys his hobbies of cars and photography. Their daughter, Lindsay, a pediatric nurse practitioner, resides in Katy, Texas, with her husband, Alex Ramirez, a landscape architect with Design Workshop. They have two children, Ella Darlene and Jude Alexander.
The Shaver File
2004-Present • Head Coach
1995-2004 • Assistant Coach
1992-95 • Assistant Coach
Barton (Kan.) County CC
1985-91 • Head Coach
Hutchinson (Kan.) CC
1982-85 • Head Track & Field Coach
1981-85 • Assistant Football Coach
1981-82 • Assistant Track & Field Coach
Records and Achievements at LSU
- 34 Olympians
- 12 Olympic Medalists
- 69 NCAA Champion athletes winning 80 NCAA event titles
- 26 NCAA Champion Relay Teams
- Athletes have earned 643 All-America honors in 40 years of coaching
- 105 SEC Champion athletes winning 191 SEC event titles
- 43 SEC Champion Relay Teams
- 508 SEC Academic Honor Roll selections in 17 seasons as LSU’s head coach
- 2008 & 2012 NCAA Women’s Outdoor Coach of the Year
- 2020 NCAA Women’s Indoor Coach of the Year
- 2021 NCAA Men’s Outdoor Coach of the Year
- 7-time SEC Women’s Coach of the Year, 2019 SEC Men’s Coach of the Year
- 5-time USTFCCCA Women’s South Central Region Coach of the Year, 2x USTFCCCA Men’s South Central Region Coach of the Year
- 2007 USTFCCCA Women’s Mideast Region Coach of the Year
- 2003 USTFCCCA Assistant Coach of the Year
- Has had nine athletes (five women, four men) win 100 meter dash NCAA titles since he became head coach of LSU in July of 2004
- Terrance Laird scored 20.5 points at the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Championships for LSU. Laird won the 100 and 4x100m relay while taking second in the 200 meters. Ran a PR of 20.81 seconds at the Texas Relays to become the third fastest collegian of all time
- Guided Sha’Carri Richardson to the collegiate record of 10.75 seconds in the 100 meter dash at the 2019 NCAA Championships. The time of 10.75 is the U20 world record, fifth fastest by an American woman, and the ninth fastest in world history
- Coached Aleia Hobbs to a then low-altitude collegiate record of 7.07 seconds in the 60 meter dash to win the title at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships and a PR of 10.85 seconds in the 100 meter dash to own the third-fastest NCAA time ever. Hobbs owns five of the top 11 fastest wind-legal 100-meter dashes in NCAA history
- Coached 2018 4×100 meter relay (Mikiah Brisco, Kortnei Johnson, Rachel Misher, Aleia Hobbs) to the collegiate record of 42.05 at the SEC Championships, and that foursome went on to win the national title in 2018 en route to a perfect 10-0 record.
- Coached Kimberlyn Duncan to the then low-altitude collegiate record of 22.19 in the 200-meter dash to win the title at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships and a PR of 21.80 to win the event at the 2013 USA Outdoor Championships.
- Coached Richard Thompson to a Collegiate Record of 9.89 in the 100-meter final to win a silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
- Coached Xavier Carter to four individual NCAA titles at the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Championships, joining the legendary Jesse Owens of Ohio State in 1935 and 1936 as the only athletes in history to accomplish the feat.
- Coached LSU to three Collegiate Relay Records all-time, including the women’s 4×100 (42.05), women’s 4×200 (1:29.78), and women’s shuttle hurdle relay (52.77). He also coached the women’s 4×400 to the former NCAA Championships meet record of 3:25.26; the men’s former NCAA Championships meet record of 2:59.59 (2005) was broke in 2018.
Achievements Prior to LSU
- 8 NJCAA National Championships
- Coached Barton County CC to first NJCAA “Triple Crown” in history, winning the cross country, indoor and outdoor national titles during the 1990-91 season
- 12 Jayhawk Community College Conference Championships
- 7 National Coach of the Year Awards
- 12 Regional Coach of the Year Awards