NCAA Outdoor Championships Athletics

LSU's Sha'Carri Richardson, center, celebrates as she wins the women's 100 meters during the NCAA outdoor track and field championships in Austin, Texas, Saturday, June 8, 2019. 

Sha’Carri Richardson couldn’t have known exactly what was coming Saturday night.

But after lighting up the Mike A. Myers Stadium track in Austin, Texas, in the semifinals of the NCAA championships Thursday night, Richardson seemed to have at least an inkling of what was to come 48 hours later.

Having used the semifinals in the 100- and 200-meter semifinals as dress rehearsals with times of 10.99 and 22.37 seconds, Richardson, LSU’s incomparable freshman, declared herself ready to go for Saturday’s finals.

“Basically, I treated tonight like a good warmup day,” Richardson said late Thursday night. “I wanted to see what I could do … and see what I wanted to do in the final.”

It turned out to be some warmup, affirmed when she set world U20 records in both sprints Saturday.

After anchoring LSU’s second-place finish in the 4x100-meter relay final, Richardson claimed the 100 in 10.75 seconds to take down Dawn Sowell’s school and collegiate record of 10.78 that stood for 30 years, then placed second in the 200 in 22.17 seconds.

“I knew she was going to run a personal best, but to run that fast?” Shaver said Sunday, about 20 hours after Richardson’s stealthy performance. “No one could have predicted that. But the conditions were good, and she’s good.”

Still, Shaver knew what Richardson was up against.

“I was surprised that she was able to double (in the 100 and 200) and run that fast as a freshman in college,” he said. “It’s the first time she’s been under that kind of pressure in her first NCAA meet. But you never know.”

Don’t forget that Richardson ran the anchor on the 4x100 relay team that just missed the title with a time of 42.29 seconds behind USC's 42.21.

LSU’s time was just two-tenths of a second off the meet record it set a year ago and was another of the big performances that helped the Lady Tigers take home the third-place trophy with 43 points.

“When you think about it, we ran almost what we ran last year with two new sprinters on it,” Shaver said, referring to Richardson and leadoff runner Tonea Marshall. “We really had almost a perfect meet.”

In addition to getting out of the blocks fast in the relay, Marshall posted a PR of 12.67 in the semifinals of the 100-meter hurdles Thursday night, then bettered that with a 12.66 to finish third in the finals.

Throw in a 3-6 finish by Brittley Humphrey and Jurnee Woodward in the 400 hurdles and a seventh-place finish by Ersula Farrow in the 800 and LSU, which was charted to finish sixth or seventh going into the meet, totaled 43 points for third.

Humphrey’s time of 56.11 seconds in the intermediates was a personal best.

Still, the extraordinary performances by the sixth-ranked Lady Tigers couldn’t mask the disappointment Shaver felt for his third-ranked men's team, who were seventh in the team race after struggling all season with injuries to key competitors.

Sprinters Jaron Flournoy and Jahnoy Thompson, hurdler Damion Thomas and quarter-miler Tyler Terry all had leg issues with Flournoy, Thomas and Terry not being able to get through the NCAA semifinals.

Terry’s leg cramp in the NCAA preliminary rounds kept the Tigers out of the 4x400 relay in Austin, and a dropped baton at the first exchange of the 4x100 relay Friday night may have cost them as many as 16 points and a possible third-place trophy finish.

That was huge even though JuVaughn Harrison produced a Herculean effort in becoming the first male athlete in the NCAA championships’ 98-year history to win the long and high jump titles in the same meet.

“I’m still disappointed for the men, but you can’t go into that type of meet when you’re not 100 percent healthy,” Shaver said.

“But I’m really proud of the women; they didn’t let what happened to the men affect them. They went out and took care of business.”


Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.