Northwestern State freshman Shaw continuing to impress in outdoor season

Terrence Bean.

In all of Northwestern State track and field’s rich history, the N-Club Hall of Fame jumper is the first and only other person to do what freshman Maygan Shaw did to begin her career this year.

Shaw won a gold medal as a true freshman at the Southland Conference Indoor Championships this past February, becoming the first NSU female to do that in her first-ever conference championship meet, joining Bean in that elite group.

The freshman tracked down a runner at the tape to claim gold in 55.96, a time which she’s shaved down to 55.53 at Texas State’s Bobcat Invitational this past week. Bean started his NSU career in 1994 and won the high jump.

Shaw and her counterparts will compete in their third outdoor meet of the season at the Baylor Invitational, which starts Friday with the hammer throw and continues Saturday.

“She doesn’t know what she’s doing yet,” said NSU sprints coach Adam Pennington as he smiled. “Once she gets more into the sport, she’ll learn a little more and pay attention to small details.

“She doesn’t overthink a situation, and she’s a competitor with a killer instinct. She doesn’t worry about the competition, she’s just out there running.”

Shaw is getting this college track thing down though, and increased attention from college-level coaches is deepening her understanding.

“Coaches are paying attention to every little detail, so you know what you’re doing wrong and how you can improve,” Shaw said. “Encouragement from coaches and support from your teammates makes you work harder and ultimately leads to running faster than you did in high school.

“I wasn’t thinking about gold when I got to the (SLC Indoors). I just wanted a better time than I ran in high school. I was thinking more about competing for medals as a senior or something like that, but no, as a freshman right out of the gate is what happened. It was overwhelming, and I was happy, surprised and amazed.”

Even more impressive, Shaw was sick all throughout the conference championship weekend, including vomiting any food she was able to ingest.

Shaw came out of Pineville High as an accomplished sprinter, winning the Class 5A 400 meters in 55.90 and claiming silver in the 200 (24.72).

But COVID-19 derailed track and field in 2020, and Shaw didn’t immediately regain her form in 2021 as a senior.

“It took a lot of practice in the summer with my team to get back to where I was in my sophomore and junior years of high school,” Shaw said. “And now I’m executing my race more, learning where to use my power and where to keep it low.

“I’m running my own race instead of basing it off others, and you just have to stay within yourself or you’ll overwork or underwork yourself.”

Pennington said most high school runners didn’t snap back into their pre-COVID-19 form right away, and he put his Central Louisiana faith in Shaw to come in and compete.

“I was born in Pineville, I’m a Cenla guy, and I have relationships down there,” Pennington said. “Very few kids come out of that area, and we knew that she was very raw.

“But seeing what she did in 2019, we were going to stick with her, bring her in and train her up.”

Shaw has made her mark in the 400 meters, but her real love is the 200 meters.

“I’m better at the 400, but the 200 is the race I really want to be good at,” said Shaw, who just missed the 200 finals at the SLC Indoors. “The 400 is good training for the 200, so I appreciate that and I’ll keep working.”

Shaw isn’t the only Cenla product to impress as a true freshman.

Galen Loyd (Grant High) ran personal bests of 47.55 (400 meters) and 10.98 (100 meters) in the previous two meets as well as a 4×100 leg on a ‘B’ relay that clocked 40.39, a top 40-time in the nation.

“I’ve known Galen since high school, and so it’s nice to see him doing things I didn’t expect him to do, and he didn’t expect me to do what I’m doing either,” Shaw said. “I’m excited to see what we’ll both do this outdoor season.”

PHOTO: Ron Pierce