Feb. 16, 2012
Travis Manning reaching for new heights
By David Boyce
A grin and a slight nod of the head occurred when sophomore Travis Manning was asked if one day he would run a faster time in the 60 hurdles than senior Tyler Shaw.
“That’s the plan,” he said.
Over the next year or so, Manning will be compared to Shaw for obvious reasons. Like Shaw, Manning runs hurdles and plays football at Northwest Missouri State.
Shaw has established himself as one of the Bearcats’ go-to wide receivers and he has had just as much success in track. Last spring Shaw took second at the NCAA Division II indoor championships and fourth in the NCAA Division II outdoor championships in the 110 hurdles.
“He’s a great guy,” Manning said. “But I’m going to make my own mark.”
Competition among teammates can often push each individual to new heights.
Manning, who plays cornerback on the football team, is starting to reach new levels in indoor track.
A year ago, he placed third in the 60 hurdles at the MIAA Indoor Championships with a time of 8.28, which was a career best.
Manning has already topped that time this season. Last week he ran a personal best 8.17 in the 60 hurdles and took first place at the Concordia Classic in Seward, Neb.
Where was Shaw?
“He is redshirting this year,” Manning said. “That is why I am winning. I’m not running behind him.”
Although Manning one day wants to top Shaw’s best time, he respects the older runner. He relied on him a lot last year.
Before practice started, Manning found himself searching for Shaw to get ready.
“I learned from him,” Manning said. “Tyler still comes to practice and will critique my hurdling and help me out. I definitely learned a lot from him. But Tyler is not too much of a talker.
“It’s nice I’m doing my own thing. I get to warm up with senior Zane Myers. He might not be as fast as Tyler, but technically, he is just as good.”
Perhaps the biggest help that Manning gets from Shaw is observing how he juggles spring football with outdoor track, especially when you are key cog in the Northwest football machine.
Manning said he started five or six games last year, which means he will probably become one of the important defensive backs next season. Spring football will be very important to him, but so will outdoor track.
Northwest coach Scott Lorek said it helps Manning to have Shaw around.
“But he would be successful anyway,” Lorek said. “He does both very well because both are very important to him.”
Manning, a graduate of Belleville West High School in Belleville, Ill., came to Northwest because he could participate in both sports.
He said he received a few Division I offers in Illinois, but he couldn’t run track and play football at those schools.
“I wanted to be able to do both,” he said. “I really enjoyed my visit here. I liked the football program. They offered a track scholarship. I was able to do both. It fit.”
Manning is succeeding. He enters Friday’s meet at Central Missouri looking to top his time of 8.17.
“I want to get my time down, run an 8.08 to get a guarantee time for nationals and just see where I rank in conference,” Manning said. “There will be a couple of conference guys there. We have a tough conference in hurdles.”
The MIAA Indoor Championships are Feb. 24-25 and nationals are March 9-10.
After that, it really gets difficult for Manning. Outdoor meets start almost immediately after the indoor season and then spring football begins.
“That’s a rough one, doing football and track,” said Manning, who is majoring in Education. “You got to get your sleep in and figure out time to do things during the day because once football practice is over, you don’t have energy to do anything else.
“I enjoy football and track here because the football coach and track coach work it out so I can do both and it is not too difficult.”
Lorek knows Manning has the mentality to handle both sports at the same time and succeed.
“It all has to do with their confidence and attitude,” Lorek said. “We work hard that we are not burning the candles at both ends.
“He has been a great student of hurdling. He has always been coachable. I think one of his biggest thing is he just loves it. He enjoys the sport.
“He has really taken seriously the technical changes we had to make. He has worked very hard to do them.”
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