By Caroline Domecq
LSU Sports Information
Just a few short days after LSU track athlete Xavier Carter made history by winning four NCAA titles at the Outdoor Championships, he said the magnitude of that achievement hasn’t quite soaked in yet.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” he said. “It probably will down the road.”
When that realization comes, the LSU sophomore will have a lot to take in. His accomplishments are so extraordinary that they have placed him among elite company in LSU and NCAA track history.
On the national stage, Carter is being mentioned in the same breath as Jesse Owens, one of the greatest track and field athletes of all-time.
The LSU sprinter is drawing comparison because he became the first man to win four NCAA Outdoor titles in one year since Owens did it in 1935 and 1936. Seventy years have passed, and no one had been able to match that feat.
That is, until Carter equaled that feat last weekend at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex in Sacramento, Calif., at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
“It feels good now that I’ve been thinking about it,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about it since I left California. I was reading about Jesse Owens in books when I was a little kid, so it feels good.”
In addition to his individual success, Carter led his team to a second-place finish behind Florida State. In fact, he earned 25 of LSU’s 51 points all by himself. That total would have been good enough to place him 12th as an individual in the team standings, as only 11 teams scored more points for their final tally than Carter did on his own.
As if that weren’t impressive enough, the Tigers sophomore also holds claim as the only man in the 85-year history of the national championships to win both the 100 and 400 meters in the same year.
Already with one title under his belt as part of the 4x100 meter relay championship earned Friday, the Palm Bay, Fla., native readied to run the 100 Saturday afternoon.
“I know what all the other coaches were thinking when Xavier and I decided what he was going to do at that meet,” LSU head track coach Dennis Shaver said. “They were all thinking, ‘No way.’”
Carter blew by his competition in the final 40 meters, crossing the finish line in 10.09 seconds. Despite entering the race with just the sixth best time in the event, his winning mark was .09 seconds faster than the second-place finisher and also crushed his own school record of 10.12 seconds set by him in April.
He then had just 40 minutes before competition began in the 400 meters. But the short break didn’t seem to phase Carter one bit.
“It’s one of those things where if he thought he couldn’t do it we never would have tried it,” Shaver said. “You have to have a certain mindset. There’s a lot of pressure at that track meet.”
Just as he did in the final stretch of the 100, the LSU phenom cranked up his speed in the final 100 meters of the 400, finishing with a time of 44.53 seconds. That time also made the record books as the second fastest time in school history and was a new personal best for Carter.
Slats Harden was the last LSU sprinter to win the open 400, and that was 72 years ago, winning back-to-back championships in 1933 and 1934. Harden also had the advantage of not having to run three heats of the 100 meters on his way to the 400 title.
“There are not many people who can handle that type of situation and be successful like he did,” Shaver added. “As a matter of fact, I don’t remember coaching anyone else at LSU who could have done that other than Xavier Carter.”
His victory in the NCAA Championships in the 400 meters finished off an undefeated season for the track star in that event. It also earned him a sweep of the 2006 400-meter crowns, as Carter also claimed the NCAA Indoor title in March.
And the athlete wasn’t finished for the day either. A few hours later, Carter lined up for competition in the 4x400 relay with Reggie Dardar, Kelly Willie and Melville Rogers. Once again, he came away with gold.
Each competitor ran his leg in 45.60 seconds or less to finish with a final time of 3:01.58 and give LSU its second straight NCAA title in the relay. It marked Carter’s fourth championship of the meet, tying him with Owens’ illustrious record.
He seemed almost unbeatable that day. In fact, the only race Carter didn’t win the entire meet was the 100-meter semifinals, where he finished second by three-hundredths of a second.
“This kid doesn’t like to get beat,” Shaver said. “He doesn’t like to get beat at anything. You challenge him and throw something out there that you think he can do, and he’s going to give you everything he’s got to try to get it done. That’s the thing that’s impressed me the most in the two years I’ve gotten to work with him at LSU.”
What’s next for Carter?
He will travel to Indianapolis, Ind., for the USA Championships next week for what he calls “unfinished business.” He came in ninth in the 200 meters last year and wants to improve his time there.
Then, when this track season is over for Carter, he will take a break – a break to take the field as a wide receiver on the 2006 LSU football team.