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. While sweeping SEC Indoor and SEC Outdoor titles in 2008 and 2011, the Lady Tigers have also captured outdoor title during the 2007, 2010 and 2012 seasons.
The Lady Tigers have also added 10 trophy performances with top-four finishes at the NCAA Championships in 11 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 13 team trophies with a top-four finish at the NCAA Championships as they have earned five second-place finishes, one third-place finish and seven fourth-place finishes between the indoor and outdoor seasons. The Tigers also scored five second-place finishes and three third-place finishes at the SEC Championships under Shaver.
In all, Shaver’s teams have combined for 23 top-three finishes at the SEC Championships and 23 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.
Vernon Norwood and the Tigers’ 4x400-meter relay team added to LSU’s national championship pedigree a season ago while accounting for three NCAA event titles to lead the team back among the nation’s elite once again in 2015.
Norwood was crowned the NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor Champion in the 400-meter dash to highlight a historic senior season at LSU. In his final season, Norwood became just the 14th sprinter in collegiate history to sweep NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor titles in the 400 meters (or 440 yards) in the same season while also anchoring the Tigers to a national championship in the mile relay outdoors.
He first clocked an indoor personal best and became the second-ranked LSU Tiger indoors in history with his winning run of 45.31 seconds at the NCAA Indoor Championships to win his first national championship in the 400-meter dash. Norwood completed his NCAA-title sweep outdoors with a time of 45.10 in the national final to join the great Xavier Carter in 2006 as the only two Tigers to win both NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor titles in the event.
Norwood wrapped up a brilliant career by anchoring the Tigers to the national title in the 4x400-meter relay as he teamed with Quincy Downing, Fitzroy Dunkley and Cyril Grayson to run 3 minutes, 1.96 seconds in the final to hand LSU its fourth NCAA Outdoor crown in the event all-time. Norwood was certainly one of the most prolific sprinters in school history as he won four NCAA titles, eight All-America honors and nine All-SEC awards in just two seasons at LSU.
Their performance was instrumental in the Tigers taking home a fourth-place team trophy at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships for the second-straight season as the team scored 45 points in two days of competition at Oregon’s Hayward Field to close out the 2015 season.
While emerging as one of the world’s top 400-meter sprinters after running a lifetime best of 44.44 at the LSU Alumni Gold last spring, Norwood followed the collegiate season by representing the United States at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing where he was crowned a World Champion as part of Team USA’s 4x400-meter relay team in his championship debut.
The LSU Track & Field program shined brightly in Beijing last summer as former Lady Tiger national champion Cassandra Tate also made her mark as one of the world’s great 400-meter hurdlers in bagging the bronze medal for the United States in her championship debut. Tate’s breakout 2015 season on the world stage with Shaver’s guidance has her poised for a spot on the medal stand in Rio de Janeiro at the 2016 Olympic Games fast approaching this summer.
Despite missing out on her first World Championships while battling injuries late in her outdoor season, former Lady Tiger standout Jasmin Stowers also emerged as one of the world’s top talents in the 100-meter hurdles in 2015 largely thanks to her training with Shaver in Baton Rouge.
Stowers, who was crowned a five-time SEC Champion and seven-time All-American in her career at LSU from 2011-14, took the world by storm with a series of personal bests last spring culminating with an IAAF Diamond League all-time record of 12.35 in Doha, Qatar. Stowers became the eighth-fastest 100 hurdler all-time and the fourth-fastest American in history with her performance.
Stowers competed as a Lady Tiger for the final time in 2014 as she went out as the NCAA Indoor Bronze Medalist in the 60-meter hurdles for the second year in a row and the NCAA Outdoor Silver Medalist in the 100-meter hurdles that season. Her altitude-adjusted time of 7.96 in the 2014 NCAA final in the 60 hurdles established a new school record in her final race indoors at LSU.
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 the final time as a Lady Tiger at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 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 at the time 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 that 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, Tate wrapped up the 2012 campaign as a national champion as she recorded her collegiate best of 55.22 to win the NCAA title in the 400-meter hurdles. She also helped the Lady Tigers win the 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 claimed 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 3:24.59 to finish as the national runners-up during the NCAA Outdoor Championships, marking the third-fastest 4x400-meter relay performance in NCAA history.
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.
Shaver has coached 44 athletes to 55 NCAA event titles in a celebrated career that spans 20 seasons at LSU. His athletes have also captured 138 SEC event titles and 503 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.
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.
But no athlete dominated collegiate track and field in 2008 quite like Thompson. Arguably the greatest sprinter to ever wear the LSU uniform, Thompson became the first Tiger to sweep NCAA titles in the 60 and 100 meters in the same season while also running the second leg on LSU's NCAA-title-winning 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 while being chosen as 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, Alabama. 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.
Shaver coached Thompson to worldwide stardom at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing where he shocked the world by winning a silver medal in the final 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 9.82 that he set in winning the title at the 2014 Sagicor National Open Championships in Port-of-Spain.
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 did in 2006 as the Tiger sophomore captured four NCAA event titles at the 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 as he struck gold 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 12th season as head coach, Shaver has enjoyed 20 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 33 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 an installer at Mike’s Audio 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 in Katy, 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
Achievements Prior to LSU