SE: Big Beginning — Shadae Lawrence Following Freshman Season with Olympic Action

Shadae Lawrence isn’t exactly getting a break after her freshman season with Kansas State track and field, and she is still in disbelief at the reason why. As an Olympic qualifier in the discus for Jamaica, however, Lawrence is more than enjoying the unexpected.  

“I didn’t think I would be in this moment, but I just trusted the program,” said Lawrence, who will give newcomers the same advice she stuck by in her first year. “Don’t think about anything in the distance. Just train hard and trust the coaches. That’s all you can do since you’re coming in as an underdog. Just train hard.”

In just a year’s time at K-State, Lawrence has trained hard and consequently “blown the roof off” everyone’s expectations, including her own. 

Lawrence, who was throwing around 48 meters at her peak in high school, won the first five collegiate meets she competed in with K-State. 

Her hot start was highlighted by a Big 12 outdoor title, clinched with a throw of 58.84 meters (193-00). While earning the Wildcats’ first female conference championship in the discus since 1999, Lawrence was also named the Big 12 Outstanding Freshman of the Year. 

After a third-place finish at the NCAA West Preliminary meet, the rising Wildcat broke out on the biggest stage. In Eugene, Oregon, Lawrence’s third throw at the NCAA Championships landed at 61.18 meters (200-09), ending a 29-year K-State record (Pinkie Suggs, 1987) and placing her fourth in the country. 

Oh, yeah, and it surpassed the Olympic standard as well. 

“You’re talking about a number that, hopefully, by the time you graduate you can achieve, and here she is at the end of her freshman season and she throws a PR at the biggest meet she’s had in her life,” K-State throws coach Greg Watson said. “That shows the type of competitor she is and truly what she’s capable of. She’s so young and, in my eyes, underdeveloped when she came in, but still underdeveloped just in her training age.”

It was Watson who delivered the news to Lawrence of exactly what she accomplished at historic Hayward Field. It is also Watson who Lawrence credits for her rapid maturity as a student-athlete.

“He’s been very helpful. I came in from high school where I had no idea about the college life, so he taught me how to be organized in school,” she said, before describing his impact on the throwers at K-State. “I think it’s just him being dedicated, it rubs off on us too. We don’t have a choice. And training hard, no excuses — that’s his thing.”

With the Olympic standard, Lawrence, whose twin sister Shardia was the more sought-after recruit in high school, finished second at Jamaica’s Olympic Trials to seal her bid to represent her country in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

“It’s a great accomplishment as a freshman,” said the 18-year-old Wildcat, who will be the only current K-State athlete competing in the Olympics. However, she will be in the company of former, and familiar, Wildcats such as Erik Kynard, Akela Jones and Alyx Treasure. “To be here with so many Olympians, like Erik and everyone else, it means a lot to represent the school.”

Lawrence will compete in the qualifying round of the Olympics, Monday at 6:30 p.m. (CT). While her goal is to finish in the top 12, Lawrence knows the experience will be enough in itself. 

“To be around those pro athletes, that will be good,” said Lawrence, also eager to be around her fellow Cats in Rio. “Hopefully, we get together and we take a picture in all of the different uniforms. That would be cool.”

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