Shane Crawford puts Indiana hamlet on the map
by Pete Cava
National Scholastic Sports Foundation
Isn’t he that sprint gold medalist from the Athens Olympics?
No, that’s ex-Clemson standout Shawn Crawford.
Shane Crawford is a senior at Winamac Community High School in northern Indiana who currently owns the top two times on the U.S. indoor prep list. His 60-meter season best of 6.70 is the eighth-fastest ever.
“That’s as fast as J-Mee Samuels ran in high school,” said Jim Spier, meet director for the National Scholastic Sports Foundation’s Nike Indoor Championships. Between 2003 and 2005 Spier saw Samuels win four NSSF titles (two indoors, two outdoors). Now a sophomore at Arkansas, Samuels owns the national high school record for the 100 meters with a time of 10.08 in 2005. Crawford hopes to follow Samuels’ footsteps: he’s one of the leading entries for the men’s 60 meters at this year’s Nike Indoor Championships, March 10-11 in Landover, Maryland.
“He’s a very talented young man,” said Randy Heisler, who left Indiana University during the off-season to coach Ball State’s women’s squad. “We brought him in for a visit while I was still in Bloomington. We liked him a lot. He caught my eye at last year’s state meet. He looked strong, powerful and athletic. People kept asking, ‘Where is Winamac?’”
A hamlet on the Tippecanoe River in northern Indiana, Winamac lies about forty-five miles north by northeast of Lafayette. Shane was born in Winamac on June 4, 1988. His parents, Paul and Sherry, were both track athletes in their younger days.
At the 2006 Indiana high school meet in Bloomington, Crawford took third in the 100-meter final with a time of 10.71 and placed eighth in the 200 in 22.30. But he wasn’t satisfied. “The competition here is so much different than what I’m used to,” Crawford told Tim Creason of the South Bend Tribune. “It’s ‘A’ game or nothing. I need to develop more power and a better top-end speed if I want a chance to win next year.”
At season’s end, Crawford hit the weight room with the intensity of an Internal Revenue Service audit. He started a rigid regimen that included power cleans and deep squats to improve his overall strength. “The kid has worked very hard,” said Heisler. “He lifts weights religiously and doesn’t like to lose – a good combination.”
The heavy-duty workload paid off on January 6 when Crawford posted a personal best of 6.75 for the 60 meters at a development meet in Bloomington. A week later on the same track, he zipped through the 60 in 6.70. “That was with a pretty bad start,” said the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Crawford, chuckling ruefully. “A terrible start.”
Although he’s reluctant to make predictions, Crawford feels that – with a proper start and good competition – a time of 6.65 is within reach. That would make him the fifth-fastest high school performer. The national record, 6.57, was set by Casey Combest at Columbus OH in 1999 at the first Nike Indoor Nationals.
“Nothing that comes out of Shane’s mouth surprises me any more,” says Winamac coach Jeff Beach. “He’s definitely a different breed. I just had a look at the journal he keeps. He’s really conscientious about nutrition and his workouts. He’s committed to the weight room. He takes the attitude, ‘What can I do to get better? What can I do to get faster?’”
Beach said Winamac has never seen anything like Crawford’s achievements this season. “This has been kind of mind-blowing,” he admitted. “When he was coming up in middle school, I remember thinking, ‘I can’t wait until this kid’s a freshman!’ I knew I was going to have a very good sprinter. But to this extent? No way!”
Winamac High honored Shane for his achievements at a January pep rally. “It’s been good for him and good for the community,” said Beach. “We’re a small town, and in my twenty years of coaching here we’ve had only a handful of kids go to Division I schools. I’d put Shane in that category.”
Shane surprised everyone, including himself
Crawford’s quick rise to the top took everyone by surprise – even Shane himself. “This has all happened kind of fast,” he said. “I didn’t see it coming. My dad didn’t see it coming. I wasn’t ready for it. I’ll see how far it takes me, I guess.”
Beach downplayed his own role in Crawford’s sudden success. “Shane’s done a lot of this on his own,” he said. “I like to tell people I get him to and from the track.”
Crawford lives with his father and, said Beach, Paul Crawford deserves much of the credit. “He was a track runner here at Winamac, too,” said Beach. “He hauled Shane around to meets all last summer.”
Along with his athletic gifts, Shane is sound academically. “He gets it done in the classroom. He’s a good kid and a good student,” said Beach, who praised Paul Crawford for his son’s all-around success. “He’s been a big part of that – the kind of kid Shane’s turned out to be,” Beach added.
Shane, who figures to be one of the year’s most sought-after sprinters, is currently visiting colleges and weighing his options. “Right now, he’s waiting to see,” said Beach. Indiana and Purdue were the first schools Crawford looked into. Mention Shane’s name to Randy Heisler, and one of the first thing he says is: “I wish we had men’s track at Ball State!”
Wherever Crawford decides to go, it probably won’t be far from Winamac. “I’d like to stay close to dad,” he explained.