When Dennis Shaver ascended to the rank of head coach of the LSU Track & 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 were crowned national champions during the 2008 outdoor season and have won a total of seven Southeastern Conference championships during his tenure. The women have taken the SEC Outdoor title in five of the last eight seasons in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012 along with the pair of SEC Indoor titles with conference sweeps in 2008 and 2011.
The Lady Tigers have also added 10 trophy performances with top-four finishes at the NCAA Championships in 10 previous seasons under Shaver’s guidance, including three second-place finishes, five third-place finishes and one fourth-place finish along with their national championship in 2008.
The Tigers have added to their trophy case as well while racking up 12 team trophies with a top-four finish at the NCAA Championships as they have earned five second-place finishes, one third-place finish and six fourth-place finishes between the indoor and outdoor seasons. In addition, the Tigers also scored five second-place finishes and three third-place finishes at the conference level under Shaver.
In all, Shaver’s teams have combined for 23 top-three finishes at the SEC Championships and 22 top-four finishes at the NCAA Championships between the indoor and outdoor seasons going back to his debut season as LSU’s head coach in 2005.
The Tigers added to their national championship pedigree a season ago as they stormed to their fourth NCAA Indoor title all-time in the 4x400-meter relay when the foursome of Darrell Bush, Quincy Downing, Cyril Grayson and Vernon Norwood struck gold ahead of the likes of Florida and Texas A&M at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
LSU’s relay teams followed with an outstanding outdoor campaign in 2014 as the Tigers claimed All-SEC honors with a second-place finish in the 4x100 relay and a third-place finish in the 4x400 relay at the SEC Outdoor Championships before sweeping NCAA Outdoor bronze medals with their performance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships to lead the team to another top-four finish at the national meet.
Individually, Norwood and Downing were instrumental in leading the Tigers to a fourth-place team trophy at the 2014 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships while sweeping a pair of bronze medals in the 400 meters and 400 hurdles at the national meet.
Norwood followed his silver-medal-winning performance in the 400-meter final at the NCAA Indoor Championships by claiming the NCAA bronze medal in the event during the outdoor season while finishing the 2014 campaign with a lifetime personal best of 45.02. Downing emerged as one of the nation’s best in his first full season running the 400-meter hurdles, wrapping up the season as the NCAA Outdoor bronze medalist with a personal best of 49.97.
LSU’s hurdle great Jasmin Stowers also enjoyed a record-breaking senior season with the Lady Tigers in 2014 as she wrapped up her collegiate career as a five-time SEC Champion and seven-time All-American as one of the most decorated sprint hurdlers in the program’s history.
Stowers put an exclamation point onto the end of a storied collegiate career as she captured the NCAA Outdoor silver medal in the 100-meter hurdles, clocking a career-best wind-aided time of 12.54 seconds in the national final. She followed the 2014 collegiate season by racing to a new wind-legal best of 12.71 at the USA Outdoor Championships, finishing her collegiate career only one one-hundredth of a second shy of matching Tananjalyn Stanley’s school-record time of 12.70 set in 1989.
Stowers did wrap up the 2014 indoor season as LSU’s school-record holder in the 60-meter hurdles when she crossed the finish line with an altitude-adjusted time of 7.96 to defend her NCAA Indoor bronze medal in the event. That performance smashed Joyce Bates’ 14-year-old school record of 7.99 in the event that was previously set during the 2000 season.
The curtain closed on one of the storied careers in the history of collegiate track and field in 2013 when Kimberlyn Duncan stepped onto the track for a final time as a Lady Tiger at the 2013 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
Duncan cemented her legacy as one of the all-time great sprinters when she tied the fastest all conditions 200 meters in collegiate history by running a wind-aided 22.04 to win a sixth national championship in the 200-meter dash in her career. Duncan’s performance tied the 23-year-old collegiate record of 22.04 set by LSU’s Dawn Sowell at the 1989 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Provo, Utah.
The Katy, Texas, product stepped into history as she swept NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor gold medals for the third-straight season to become the first sprinter in collegiate history to claim six national titles in the 200-meter dash at the NCAA level. Duncan matched that output at the conference level with a sweep of SEC Indoor and SEC Outdoor titles in the 200 meters for the third year in a row, even running an SEC Outdoor Championships meet record of 22.35 in her senior season in 2013.
Not only did Duncan match the fastest all conditions 200 meters in collegiate history as a senior, but she set the low-altitude collegiate record of 22.19 as a junior in 2012 in the NCAA semifinals. She ran three of the five fastest wind-legal times and five of the eight fastest all conditions times in NCAA history as the most dominant 200-meter sprinter ever at the collegiate level.
Duncan earned the right to represent the United States on the international stage for the first time in her career in 2013 when she dropped her personal best of 21.80 in capturing her first career U.S. Outdoor title in the 200 meters to qualify for the IAAF World Championships in Athletics.
Duncan also earned a reputation as one of the world’s emerging talents in the 100-meter dash during her Lady Tiger career when she became just the fifth collegiate sprinter to break 11 seconds after setting the SEC Championships meet record of 10.96 in the 2012 conference final. Duncan defended her SEC 100-meter title as a senior in 2013 before winning the NCAA Outdoor bronze medal in the event last season. She also scored back-to-back NCAA silver medalist in the 100 meters in 2011 and 2012.
Winner of The Bowerman in 2012 as the top athlete in collegiate track and field, Duncan tied the school record with seven NCAA event titles and 12 SEC events titles in four seasons from 2010-13.
Like Duncan, former Lady Tiger standout Cassandra Tate wrapped up the 2012 campaign as a national champion as she recorded a career-best of 55.22 to claim the NCAA crown in the 400-meter hurdles, becoming the fourth Lady Tiger all-time to accomplish the feat. Tate also helped lead the Lady Tigers to the national title in the 4x400-meter relay during the indoor season as she ran the second leg on a team that featured Alexander, Siedda Herbert and Jonique Day as they earned the 13th NCAA crown for the program in the event all-time with their victory.
Alexander, Tate and Day also joined leadoff leg Latoya McDermott on the team that set a new school record of 3 minutes, 24.59 seconds to finish as the national runners-up during the NCAA Outdoor Championships, marking the third-fastest 4x400-meter relay performance in NCAA history.
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 coached 43 athletes to 52 NCAA event titles in a celebrated career that spans 19 seasons at LSU. His athletes have also captured 133 SEC event titles and 478 All-America honors all-time.
It was a 2012 season in which Shaver was honored 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 and seven times named the SEC Coach of the Year.
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.
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 an NCAA crown 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 national runner-up finish in the 60-meter dash at the NCAA Indoor meet.
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, California. 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 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 11th season as head coach, Shaver has enjoyed 19 tremendously successful seasons at LSU after joining the program as an assistant coach in August 1995.
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, Kansas, Shaver received a Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1979. In 1981, he added his master’s degree in education with an emphasis on administration from Stephen F. Austin State University.
Shaver and his wife, Connie, have two children. Their son, Dale, is a service advisor for Richard's Honda in Baton Rouge and enjoys his hobbies of cars and photography. Their daughter, 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, and their daughter, Ella Darlene Ramirez.
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
- 22 Olympians
- 6 Olympic Medalists
- 43 NCAA Champion athletes winning 52 NCAA event titles
- 20 NCAA Champion Relay Teams
- Athletes have earned 478 All-America honors in 32 years of coaching
- 65 SEC Champion athletes winning 133 SEC event titles
- 32 SEC Champion Relay Teams
- 303 SEC Academic Honor Roll selections in 10 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 and a PR of 21.80 to win the event at the 2013 USA 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