May 24, 2011
Shaw goes for gold in California
By David Boyce
Junior Tyler Shaw boarded an airplane Tuesday with Northwest Missouri State track coach Scott Lorek thrilled for many reasons.
His ability in the 110 high hurdles is taking him to a part of the country he's never been.
Shaw will compete in the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field National Championships in Turlock, Calif. His preliminary race is 7:25 Friday evening.
Expectations are high for Shaw. He enters tied with the second-best time in all of Division II.
"I think I have a real good shot at winning," Shaw said. "It's the best I've been running since I came to this school. I think I actually have a real legitimate shot to take everything."
As important as the national meet is to Shaw, he's going to get much more out of this week than merely competing against the best in the country.
It's one of the educational aspects of being a student-athlete. Shaw, who is from St. Louis, has never been to the Golden State.
On Tuesday, Shaw and Lorek will fly into Oakland and spend a few hours driving through San Francisco before heading to Turlock.
One of the things Shaw will experience is the famed Golden Gate Bridge.
"I'm very excited. I always hear good things about California," Shaw said. "To actually go out there and see all those things, I can't wait. I will be taking a lot of pictures."
By the time Shaw puts San Francisco in the rearview mirror his mind will focus squarely on the last track meet of the season.
It's Shaw's third trip to nationals. Of course, he's happy he's been good enough to make it. Now, he wants to bring home the gold.
Last year he finished sixth, two spots worse than the fourth-place finish his freshman year.
"The experience is tremendous and there is no way getting around that," Lorek said. "In his first year everything was new. He competed with a clean slate and everything was great.
"In his sophomore year, he competed with a lot of pressure on him. I think this year he has everything squared away, and we've been seeing that all year."
Shaw admits last year's sixth-place finish was frustrating.
"I wasn't running like I knew how to run and what I was capable of," he said. "I was kind of disappointed that I didn't compete as well as I wanted to compete."
Shaw is locked in this year. In the nearly two weeks of preparation before the national meet, he hasn't had to make any radical changes to enhance his chance to take first.
The only thing different is he's been working out in the evening to correlate with the time he will compete in the prelims on Friday.
"Less is more, essentially," Lorek said.
So Wednesday Shaw will practice in the evening in Turlock, Calif.
Mostly, the final two days leading up to nationals, Shaw will relax and mentally focus on what he needs to do to achieve his goal.
"Pretty much nothing is different," Shaw said. "I will pretty much do the same thing I've been doing all year."
While Lorek is extremely happy that Shaw has again made it to nationals, he wished a few more of his teammates could have joined him.
Lorek knew sophomore Brittany Poole and junior T.R. Pursell were close to making the women's and men's steeplechase but came up just short.
"It's a little bit frustrating," Lorek said. "Our two steeplechasers were very close. I thought Brittany Poole was going to get in for sure. She missed by one second.
Also, sophomore Seth Staashelm came close in the decathlon.
The good news is all three will be back next season and all have an excellent chance of reaching nationals.
In addition, Lorek has high hopes for both teams.
"We have some good kids coming in from Nebraska as well as Missouri," Lorek said. "Both of our teams were quite young this year.
"Our women were mostly freshmen. We knew we would take a lot knots this year. Next year we will be a much improved team simply because we will have a year of experience under us."
Nothing would be better than Shaw returning to nationals in his senior year as a defending national champion, explaining to five, six or 10 teammates on what to expect at the national outdoor track meet.
Making it to nationals is the payoff for all the hard work put in during the winter and spring months.
"I'm looking forward to it a lot," Shaw said of this year's meet. "You always want to end the track season this way, making it to nationals.
"Making it for the third year in a row is very exciting for me."
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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