When Dennis Shaver ascended to the rank of head coach of the LSU track and field program in July 2004, he was given the reigns of a national power recognized worldwide for its dominance at the collegiate level while racking up a total of 30 NCAA team championships in its history.
Expectations were high, but Shaver had experienced LSU's success first-hand as he helped coach the Tigers and Lady Tigers to a combined 12 national championships while serving as an assistant coach for nine seasons from 1996-2004. It came as no surprise when he was asked to continue LSU's championship tradition when the position opened in the wake of the 2004 season.
Shaver knew the challenge that lay in front of him when he accepted the job. At his opening press conference, Shaver promised fans, coaches, officials and his student-athletes that "we are going to do everything we can to keep this kind of championship program going here at LSU."
He has certainly delivered on that promise as the program has showed no signs of slowing down under his guidance. The Lady Tigers enter the 2013 season as the three-time defending SEC Outdoor champions after defending their home turf at the 2012 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships held at LSU's Bernie Moore Track Stadium in Baton Rouge.
It marked the seventh time in Shaver's tenure as head coach that the Lady Tigers have been crowned Southeastern Conference champions as they have now claimed the SEC Outdoor crown in five of the last six seasons after also taking titles in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011. The LSU women have added a pair of SEC Indoor titles while sweeping conference crowns during the 2008 and 2011 seasons.
On the strength of his team's performance and the emergence of Kimberlyn Duncan and Cassandra Tate as national champions during the outdoor season, Shaver was honored in 2012 as both the NCAA Division I Women's Outdoor Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association and the SEC Women's Outdoor Coach of the Year in a vote of the league's head coaches. Shaver has now twice been recognized as the National Coach of the Year during his tenure and has been named the SEC Coach of the Year seven times in eight seasons.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers were impressive once again at the NCAA Championships while joining for four NCAA event titles and 43 All-America honors during the 2012 campaign. The program also brought home a pair of NCAA team trophies a year ago as the Tigers finished as the national runner-up at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and the Lady Tigers claimed a third-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships for the third year in a row.
In eight seasons under Shaver's coaching, LSU has now captured 21 top-five finishes at the NCAA Championships between the indoor and outdoor seasons.
Duncan cemented her legacy as one of the NCAA's great sprinters during a history-making junior season in 2012 as she defended her NCAA Indoor and NCAAA Outdoor titles in the 200-meter dash, becoming the first sprinter in collegiate history to sweep national championships in the event in back-to-back seasons. Duncan smashed her own low-altitude collegiate record in the 200 meters with a personal best of 22.19 seconds in the semifinals at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships held at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa.
Duncan also earned a reputation as one of the world's emerging stars in the 100-meter dash when she became just the fifth collegiate sprinter all-time to break the 11-second barrier in the event by setting the SEC Championship meet record with a run of 10.96 in the SEC final. The two-time NCAA silver medalist is now the No. 3-ranked 100-meter sprinter in collegiate history with her performance.
In three seasons under Shaver's coaching, Duncan has captured five NCAA championships, seven SEC championships and nine All-America honors as one of the most decorated sprinters in the program's history. She has also twice been recognized as a finalist for The Bowerman in 2011 and 2012.
Like Duncan, Tate wrapped up the 2012 campaign as a national champion as she recorded a best of 55.22 to take the NCAA title in the 400-meter hurdles. Tate also helped lead the Lady Tigers to a national title in the 4x400-meter relay during the indoor season as she ran the second leg on a team that featured Rebecca Alexander, Siedda Herbert and Jonique Day as they earned the program's 13th national title in the event all-time with their victory at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Alexander, Tate and Day also joined Latoya McDermott on the leadoff leg of the team that set a new school record of 3 minutes, 24.59 seconds en route to a national runner-up finish in the final race of the collegiate season in the 4x400-meter relay final at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
The Tigers won an NCAA relay title of their own in record-setting fashion at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2012 when Barrett Nugent, Aaron Ernest, Keyth Talley and Shermund Allsop dominated the 4x100-meter relay final in 38.38 to tie the Drake Stadium record with the seventh-fastest time in collegiate history. The Tigers claimed their eighth NCAA title in the event in program history.
Shaver has now coached 39 athletes to 49 NCAA event titles in a celebrated career that spans 18 seasons at LSU. His athletes have also captured 119 SEC event titles and 411 All-America honors all-time.
LSU had been on the cusp of adding to its national championship collection in Shaver's first four seasons as head coach as the teams combined for seven second-place team finishes at the NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor Championships, including four runner-up finishes for the Tigers and three runner-up finishes for the Lady Tigers during that span.
But with his top team making the trip to Des Moines for the 2008 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Shaver knew LSU was a championship contender on both sides.
The meet unfolded just the way he had anticipated with the women's race for the team title going down to the very last event of the weekend. The Lady Tigers were tied with defending champion Arizona State at 59 points with both teams advancing a team into the final of the 4x400 relay. The stage was set for a dramatic conclusion with the team crossing the finish line first taking the title.
The Lady Tigers carried the stick around the track in 3:28.33 to score eight points with a second-place finish in the race, while the Sun Devils were unable to keep pace with a fifth-place finish. The final score of the meet after 21 events read LSU 67, Arizona State 63.
Not only did the Lady Tigers capture their first national championship under Shaver, but the team won the 31st NCAA title in the history of the LSU Track & Field program nearly 75 years to the day that the Tigers won their first national championship way back on June 17, 1933. It proved to be a fitting end to a season that also saw the Lady Tigers dominate the Southeastern Conference by sweeping SEC Indoor and SEC Outdoor championships for the first time under Shaver's direction.
For his team's performance, Shaver was named the NCAA Women's Outdoor Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, while also sweeping SEC Women's Indoor and Outdoor Coach of the Year honors in a vote of the league's head coaches.
Considered one of the leading sprints and hurdles coaches in the sport, LSU's athletes flourished under Shaver's guidance once again as the Tigers and Lady Tigers made their presence felt throughout the 2008 season. Shaver coached the likes of Lady Tiger greats Kelly Baptiste and Nickiesha Wilson to NCAA event titles during their final season in the purple and gold, while he also coached Tiger sprint star Richard Thompson to one of the most prolific seasons in collegiate history.
Baptiste was the catalyst in LSU's national championship run as she accounted for a team high 19 points at the NCAA Championships while becoming the fifth Lady Tiger in program history to be crowned NCAA champion in the 100-meter dash. Wilson was equally as impressive at the NCAA Outdoor meet as she added 18 points with a national championship in the 400-meter hurdles and a runner-up finish in the final of the 100-meter hurdles.
In four years with Shaver's coaching, Baptiste amassed a resume to rival the best sprinters to ever wear the LSU uniform. She is the only Lady Tiger to sweep NCAA titles in the 60 meters and 100 meters in the same season, while she also ranks eighth in team history with an impressive 14 career All-America honors. She is also the school-record holder with a top 60-meter time of 7.13.
But no athlete dominated collegiate track and field in 2008 quite like Thompson. Arguably the greatest sprinter to ever wear the LSU uniform, Thompson also became the first Tiger to sweep NCAA titles in the 60 meters and 100 meters in the same season, while he also ran the second leg on LSU's national champion 4x100-meter relay team. In addition, Thompson won All-America honors in the 200 meters with a runner-up finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships en route to being named the NCAA Men's Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year.
He became the first sprinter coached by Shaver to crack the 10-second barrier in the 100-meter dash with his victory at the SEC Outdoor Championships in Auburn, Ala. Thompson's 9.93 in the conference final set an SEC record and was the second-fastest time ever recorded at the collegiate level.
Thompson, who came to LSU from the country of Trinidad & Tobago with a personal record of 10.65 in the 100 meters, wrapped up his career in Baton Rouge as a four-time NCAA champion, five-time SEC champion and eight-time All-American under Shaver's guidance.
While Shaver helped Thompson become one of the more dominant sprinters in collegiate history during his career at LSU, he coached his pupil to worldwide stardom at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. In his Olympics debut, Thompson shocked the world by winning a silver medal in the finals of the 100-meter dash while setting a new collegiate record with a time of 9.89. He finished second only to Jamaican world-record holder and gold medalist Usain Bolt. After anchoring Trinidad's 4x100-meter relay to a silver medal, Thompson's unforgettable season was complete.
While continuing to train in Baton Rouge following his collegiate career, Thompson dropped his 100-meter personal best with a Trinidad & Tobago national record of 9.85 that he set in winning the title at the 2011 Sagicor National Open Championships in Port-of-Spain while earning a spot on the country's World Championships team for the second time in his career.
While Thompson grabbed the headlines, he was not the only athlete coached by Shaver to line up at the Olympic Games in 2008. Former Lady Tiger hurdler and two-time World Indoor champion Lolo Jones made her Olympics debut with a seventh-place finish after winning the 100-meter hurdles at the U.S. Olympic Trials, while Baptiste (Trinidad and Tobago) and Sherry Fletcher (Grenada) ran the 100 meters and Wilson (Jamaica) and Isa Phillips (Jamaica) competed in the 400-meter hurdles.
Jones, who continues to train with Shaver in Baton Rouge, has become one of the recognizable faces in track and field as the world's leading sprint hurdler. In becoming the first hurdler in meet history to win back-to-back World Indoor gold medals in the 60-meter hurdles at the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships, Jones became the new American record holder after setting a new personal best with a winning time of 7.72. Shaver has also coached Jones to a PR of 12.43 in the 100-meter hurdles she set in the semifinal round at the 2008 Olympic Games.
Jones made her return to the Olympic Games in London as she just missed earning a spot on the medal podium with a fourth-place finish in her second-straight Olympic final.
LSU carried its momentum into the 2009 season as Shaver again proved why he is one of the more respected coaches in the business while coaching two-sport star Trindon Holliday to his first career NCAA championship in the 100-meter dash.
After finishing as the national runner-up in 2007 and earning a third-place finish in 2008, Holliday enjoyed a season to remember as he became the third different Tiger in four years to be crowned the NCAA 100-meter champion. He sprinted to the finish line with a PR of 10.00 to continue LSU's domination in the event. His victory in the NCAA 100-meter final followed a 2009 indoor season in which he earned his second-straight national runner-up finish in the 60-meter dash at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
But no athlete has dominated the sport with Shaver's coaching quite like LSU great Xavier Carter as the Tiger sophomore captured four NCAA event titles at the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Championships held in Sacramento, Calif. Carter became the first collegiate athlete since Ohio State's Jesse Owens in 1935 and 1936 to win four NCAA titles at a single national meet, claiming championships in the 100 meters, 400 meters, 4x100-meter relay and 4x400-meter relay. In his brief two-year career at LSU, Carter won an impressive seven individual national championships and 10 All-America honors as the only collegiate athlete in history to double with national titles in the 100 meters and 400 meters in the same year at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Sprint sensation Kelly Willie also capped a stellar career in 2006 by leading the Tigers to three relay national titles while earning a total of five All-America honors. With Shaver's coaching, Willie finished his four-year career in Baton Rouge as the most decorated athlete in the history of LSU men's track and field, tying Carter with a school record seven NCAA individual championships and a LSU record 19 career All-America honors.
LSU's men's and women's relay teams proved to be an unbeatable force throughout the 2006 season, sweeping 4x400 titles at the NCAA Championships during the indoor and outdoor seasons and the men claiming a national championship in the 4x100 at the NCAA Outdoor meet. In all, 12 of Shaver's athletes won individual national titles in eight different events for the 2006 season.
In Shaver's first season as head coach in 2005, Carter and Willie provided the foundation for one of the elite mile relay teams in NCAA history that put an exclamation point onto the end of the collegiate season by setting a new collegiate record en route to a national championship.
LSU's foursome of Reggie Dardar (46.4), Willie (44.4), Bennie Brazell (44.8) and Carter (44.0) clocked 2:59.59 in shattering the 17-year-old record of 2:59.91 set by UCLA in 1988. That national crown catapulted the Tigers to a third-place finish in the final team standings, an effort that was assisted by the national runner-up efforts by Carter in the 200-meter dash and Brazell in the 400-meter hurdles.
While he enters his ninth season as head coach, Shaver has enjoyed 17 tremendously successful seasons at LSU after joining the program as an assistant coach in August 1995. Shaver joined the LSU staff after serving four seasons as an assistant coach at Auburn where he designed training programs for the team's field and multi-event athletes.
Prior to his tenure at Auburn, Shaver served as head coach for both the men's and women's track and field programs at Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kan. His teams captured all 12 of the conference's indoor and outdoor titles in his six seasons at Barton. He also led the Barton women to eight national championships, including three indoor, three outdoor and two cross country titles. In 1990-91, the women's team at Barton County College captured the first "National Triple Crown" in junior college history, winning the cross country, indoor track and outdoor track titles that season.
Shaver is regarded as one of the premier coaches in the sport of track and field, and he has earned national recognition for his many accomplishments throughout his coaching career.
Not only was he named the NCAA Women's Outdoor Coach of the Year by the USTFCCCA in 2008 and 2012, but he has also been named a seven-time SEC Women's Coach of the Year during his tenure. In 2003, he was recognized by his peers as the first USTCA Assistant Coach of the Year for Women's Sprints and Hurdles. In addition, Shaver has received nine National Coach of the Year awards, six Kansas Collegiate Coach of the Year honors and 16 Regional Coach of the Year awards in his coaching career that spans 30 years.
Shaver is certified as a Level I, II and Master Coach by USA Track and Field and has been an instructor for the USATF Coaches Education curriculum of the sprint and hurdle events.
A native of Salina, Kan., Shaver earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1979. In 1981, he added a master's degree in education with an emphasis on administration from Stephen F. Austin State University. Shaver and his wife, Connie, have two children. Dale is a service advisor for Richard's Honda in Baton Rouge and enjoys his hobbies of cars and photography. Lindsay graduated summa cum laude in 2012 from the University of South Alabama with her Master of Science in nursing with a focus on pediatric primary care. She is a pediatric nurse practitioner at Longhorn Pediatrics in Austin, Texas, where she resides with her husband, Alex Ramirez, a landscape architect with Design Workshop.
The Shaver File
2004-Present - Head Coach
1995-2004 - Assistant Coach
1992-95 - Assistant Coach
Barton (Kan.) County CC
1985-91 - Head Coach
Hutchinson (Kan.) CC
1982-85 - Head Track & Field Coach
1981-85 - Assistant Football Coach
1981-82 - Assistant Track & Field Coach
Records and Achievements at LSU
6 Olympic Medalists
39 NCAA Champion athletes winning 49 NCAA event titles
19 NCAA Champion Relay Teams
Athletes have earned 411 All-America honors in 30 years of coaching
57 SEC Champion athletes winning 119 SEC event titles
31 SEC Champion Relay Teams
250 SEC Academic Honor Roll selections in eight seasons as LSU's head coach
2008 & 2012 NCAA Women's Outdoor Coach of the Year
7-time SEC Women's Coach of the Year
4-time USTFCCCA Women's South Central Region Coach of the Year
2007 USTFCCCA Women's Mideast Region Coach of the Year
2003 USTCA Assistant Coach of the Year
Coached Kimberlyn Duncan to the low-altitude collegiate record of 22.19 in the 200-meter dash to win the title at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Coached Richard Thompson to a Collegiate Record of 9.89 in the 100-meter final to win a silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
Coached Xavier Carter to four individual NCAA titles at the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Championships, joining the legendary Jesse Owens of Ohio State in 1935 and 1936 as the only athletes in history to accomplish the feat.
Coached LSU to five Collegiate Relay Records all-time, including the women's 4x100 (42.55), women's 4x200 (1:29.78), men's 4x400 (2:59.59) and women's shuttle hurdle relay (52.77). He also coached the women's 4x400 to the former NCAA Championships meet record of 3:25.26.
Achievements Prior to LSU
8 NJCAA National Championships
Coached Barton County CC to first NJCAA "Triple Crown" in history, winning the cross country, indoor and outdoor national titles during the 1990-91 season
12 Jayhawk Community College Conference Championships
7 National Coach of the Year Awards
12 Regional Coach of the Year Awards
6 Kansas Collegiate Coach of the Year Awards