CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 26) – Shannon Kalawan put on a show at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday.
The Saint Augustine’s University sophomore ran away with national titles in the 400-meter dash, 400-meter hurdles and 4×400-meter relay at the Irwin Belk Complex. Her performance led to a national runner-up finish for the Lady Falcons.
In the men’s division, the Falcons relied on sprinter Brandon-Valentine Parris (Jr./St. Vincent) and javelin thrower Najair Jackson (Fr./Spanish Town, Jamaica) to place fourth in the nation. Both the SAU men’s and women’s squads received team trophies for finishing among the top four teams in their respective divisions.
Both teams placed high in the standings despite bringing small contingents to the championship meet, which was held on the Johnson C. Smith University campus. Eight men and five women qualified for the Falcons and Lady Falcons, respectively.
“I thought we performed well,” said legendary SAU Head Coach George Williams, whose men’s teams had captured the previous five national titles. “We just ran out of bodies.”
Women’s champion Lincoln (Mo.) University scored 60 points followed by the Lady Falcons with 48.5 points and Angelo State University with 42.5 points. Texas A&M University-Kingsville won the men’s title with 65 points followed by Ashland University with 51 points, Tiffin University with 50 points and the Falcons with 42 points.
Kalawan scored nearly half (22.5) of the Lady Falcons’ points in convincing fashion. She was dominant at the meet, pulling away from competitors early in races. A Westmoreland, Jamaica, native, Kalawan appeared to be running by herself after making the final turn toward the finish line.
“Shannon is an athlete,” Williams said. “You won’t find a runner like her.”
Kalawan placed first and Amanda Crawford (So./Brooklyn, NY) finished second in the 400 dash to put the Lady Falcons in contention. The Lady Falcons climbed to third in the team standings after the pair scored 18 points in the 400. Kalawan ran a personal-best 52.05 seconds in the race.
The Lady Falcons moved to second place after Kalawan won the 400 hurdles in 57.27 seconds. Lincoln clinched the title before the 4×400 relay, but the Lady Falcons squad of Ade Hunter (Sr./Philadelphia, PA), Crawford, Leah Barker (Sr./St. Michaels, Barbados) and Kalawan ended the meet in style. With Kalawan as the anchor, the foursome cemented second place in the women’s division with the victory.
“I was really nervous coming into this championship,” said Kalawan, the top-ranked 400 sprinter and 400 hurdler entering the meet. “I was struggling with a little hamstring problem but I am proud of myself, my teammates and my coach for pushing me.”
Kalawan and her 4×400 teammates were among several Falcons and Lady Falcons earning All-America status on Saturday. The top eight finishers in each event gained All-America honors.
Valentine-Parris placed third in the men’s 400 dash and fourth in the men’s 200 dash, and Jackson finished second in the men’s javelin throw. Jackson threw a season-best 234-9 on his first attempt.
The men’s 4×400 unit of Evans, Shaquille Dill (Jr./Pembroke, Bermuda), Kimmons and Valentine-Parris placed second, and the women’s 4×100 group of Kalawan, Barker, Hunter and Crawford was sixth. The men’s 4×100 relay team of Damere Gilbert (So./Sharon Hill, PA), Adrian Kimmons (Sr./Cold Water, MS), Dontarian Evans (Jr./Gainesville, FL) and Valentine-Parris placed fourth.
Justin Williams (So./Brooklyn, NY) deserves mention for his triple jump performance. He placed 10th in the event after being a late entry in the event.