Jan. 28, 2011
Shaw lives for the competition
By David Boyce
For Tyler Shaw, the transition from dodging would-be tacklers on the football field to jumping hurdles indoors is natural because of one essential element: competition.
"I'm always in some kind of competition doing something," said Shaw. "My whole life I've been going from one sport to another. If I had time off I would probably go crazy."
Shaw, a junior in track, just completed a solid sophomore season in football. He caught 24 passes for 445 yards and five touchdowns and returned 18 kickoffs for 358 yards, including a 73-yard return for a touchdown.
As he prepares for Saturday's Mule Relays in Warrensburg, Shaw is hitting his track stride. Last week at Nebraska Wesleyan he earned a provisional qualifying time of 8.12 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles for the national indoor meet.
"My goal is to hit below an eight in the hurdles and a 21.9 in the 200," Shaw said of his expectations at the Mule Relays.
In some important ways, Shaw is different from the two-sport athlete in the previous seasons.
Like most students in their third year of college, the experience of the previous two years have matured him, opened him up.
Track coach Scott Lorek once saw Shaw as the quiet hurdler who came to practice with head phones on.
"It's been exciting to see how he's changed and developed from a freshman," Lorek said. "Now, he's a team leader. He hasn't been with us in the fall, obviously, but now he steps right in.
"He trains real hard. He's a great leader by example and he's starting to be a little more vocal, too, which I really appreciate. He's starting to come on in that side, too."
Shaw is in position where younger athletes will pay attention to him and follow his lead.
Playing on a highly successful, championship football team gives Shaw a complete understanding of what it takes to win.
But track is a different beast than football. Success on the gridiron doesn't mean success will automatically come in track, especially competing against athletes who focus only on track.
"It depends on the event," Lorek said. "Somebody like Tyler Shaw and Travis Manning (cornerback), who run the hurdles, they can make the transition pretty quickly. They carry over some speed from football. The main thing we have to watch is their training level and work load so we don't get them injured. They are going to do a lot more running."
"For the longer events like the 400, it takes a solid month at least to feel like a track athlete and two months to be running like one."
Presently, Shaw feels like a track athlete.
"Really, I've been doing it all my life," he said. "It's pretty much muscle memory and I have pretty good coaches who help me get to that mindset."
Even if Shaw entered an indoor meet still in football mode, he would find a way to be successful.
"I like the competition. I'm just a competitor. I like being able to compete against other people who are just as good," Shaw said.
"It's pretty much the same mentality. It's just going out there and competing. It's you out there trying to be better than the other person."
The last two regular-season indoor meets the Bearcats are in are simply preparation for the MIAA Indoor Championships Feb. 25-27 in Warrensburg. After that it's the national meet March 11-12 in Albuquerque, N.M.
"There are very few meets that we score," Lorek said. "The only one that means anything is the conference championship. If we are in a meet that is scoring it is kind of meaningless essentially. We have to put people where they have the best chance of scoring and use that to measure whether that's their best event. Usually, that goes hand-in-hand.
"We are pretty much at the level that you have to be a national qualifier to score in our conference meet."
After Saturday, Shaw and the rest of the Bearcats have just one more tune-up meet before the MIAA Championships.
"Mainly, I want to see some technical things," Lorek said of Shaw. "He's doing a lot of things better right now than he has in the last two years in the hurdles. I don't have an explanation why he is. He came in and did better right off the bat.
"We are glad he got a least a provisional time in the last meet. He's running at a higher level and he's better mentally. We are looking for just continued development."
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