May 13, 2011
By David Boyce
A dilemma hit junior Tyler Shaw in April.
Part of him knew he needed time with Northwest Missouri State's football team. Shaw plays wide receiver for the highly successful Division II program looking to sustain its winning ways as it transitions from legendary Coach Mel Tjeerdsma to Scott Bostwick, its longtime defensive coordinator.
On the other hand, Shaw could ill-afford to miss training sessions with the track team. Last year Shaw finished second in the 110 high hurdles at the MIAA Track and Field Championship.
Technique means everything in a race that is decided in 14 seconds or less.
After coming so close to finishing first in the hurdles last year, Shaw wanted the gold medal this season.
But Shaw also has some goals he wants to attain in football.
What to do, where to go?
Fortunately for Shaw, he has some very understanding coaches in both sports.
"It is kind of hard and very stressful," Shaw said. "Usually the coaches get together and they talk and usually I go with whatever the coaches want me to do. I don't do too much in spring football knowing that I still have track going on.
"And then I take some days off in track when they really want me to focus on football. It is up to the coaches."
It all worked out for Shaw. He finished first in the 110 hurdles at the MIAA Track and Field Championship last weekend with a blazing time of 13.92.
"It's a great accomplishment," he said. "It's always my first goal to win conference. To actually win it and pull it off, I'm very excited about it."
Unfortunately, the 13.92 was wind-aided.
"Honestly, I didn't notice the wind and I'm still kind of skeptical of that but some things are out of your control," Shaw said.
The good thing, Northwest track coach Scott Lorek said, is Shaw knows he can go that fast.
Shaw took the pressure off himself the day before the finals when he ran a 14.11 in the preliminaries, which was the second fastest time in Division II.
"It was very comforting and it puts my mind at ease," Shaw said. "At first I was sitting 12th on the list and with that prelim time it moved me all the way up to second. Now I don't have to worry about actually qualifying or being on the bubble. I'm very relaxed."
And that's a great mind frame to be in as he gears up for the Chicago Penultimate Invitational this weekend. It's a last-chance meet to get national qualifying times.
"I want to run well, compete and hopefully break a sub-14 in the hurdles," he said.
Shaw got through the football-track battle just fine.
"He was slowed for a few weeks because of his football obligations. We made it through that," Lorek said.
"He's also on the national list in the 200, but he has to run faster to get in there."
In addition to the 16 Northwest track and field athletes who will compete in Chicago, sophomore Seth Staashelm and Adrienne Cornelius are in Hays, Kan., competing in the FSU Twilight Qualifier. Staashelm is competing in the decathlon and Cornelius in the heptathlon.
As for Shaw, he knows he has one more meet after this weekend and that's the national championships May 26-28 in Turlock, Calif.
And once that's over his focus will be squarely on the football season.
Northwest will enter the season on a conference record 46-game MIAA winning streak.
Shaw doesn't think a coaching change will cause opponents to take the Bearcats lightly.
"It's tradition," he said. "They are not going to bring in people who are going to be cancerous to the team or hurt the team in any way. They do heavy recruiting every year to make sure we stay strong and competitive throughout the whole season. I'm pretty sure the other MIAA teams know that.
"Even though Coach T is gone, he left behind a good staff who has been around so long that they understand that it's not really over."
David Boyce spent more than 20 years covering high school and small college athletics at the Kansas City Star newspaper in Missouri. He's covered six of Northwest Missouri State's seven national championship football games and recently served as a guest columnist for the MIAA.
Boyce was named KIAAA Sportswriter of the Year in 1994. He covered boxing at the Star from 1991-2004 including Tommy Morrison and worked both championship fights between Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis. His 1997 exclusive story on Morrison becoming HIV positive was named an Associated Press Sports Editor top 10 feature for papers serving more than 150,000.
Boyce was born in New York City and was raised in Kansas City, Kan. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1988 with a degree in journalism. He is currently one of three official scorers for the Kansas City Royals and is a contributing writer for the Royals Gameday magazine.
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