Blogs > ON CAMPUS

ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Friday, May 13, 2011

Meet New Haven's Shannon Gagne, one of the best in the nation

WEST HAVEN — Shannon Gagne doesn’t believe in bad luck or superstitions. She doesn’t leave anything to chance.

The University of New Haven sprinter from Meriden will be the featured performer at the New England Track and Field championships at Southern Connecticut State’s Jess Dow Field this weekend.



Gagne will be heavily favored in the 200 and 400 meters. She’ll also compete in the long jump and two relays for the Chargers. It’s a busy weekend for the 23-year-old who has set her sights on the multiple NCAA Division II championships next month.

Gagne became the first person to win national crowns in both the 200 and 400 in a single NCAA Division II Indoor Championship. She won the 400 meters by a little over a second with a 54.03 clocking and then returned to the track an hour-and-thirty later to claim the 200 meter crown in 23.66, edging out Lincoln freshman Judith Riley for the title. Gagne scored 30 points total in the meet, leading New Haven to a 32-point, fourth-place team showing. Gagne also won the national crown in the long jump.

Her progression has been stunning and she was recently named that National Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Not bad for a girl who came to New Haven intending on only competing in the long jump, her staple in high school.

“I was always fast, but I wasn’t that talented,” she said. “Coach LaSure noticed I how fast I was and started training me in sprinting. You have to have some natural ability, but it’s been a lot of work.”

Gagne’s track teammates joke about her future in criminal justice. She is a 3.90 student hoping to go into a phase of national security.

“They always say imagine me chasing down a criminal,” Gagne said. “They’d have no chance.”

But there is no joking about her future in the sport. Gagne said she never imagined she could break the 25-second mark in the 200 meters. That seems like ages ago as she is one of the top seeds in the Division II with a best time of 23.59. Continued...

123See Full StoryReader Comments »View reader comments (0) » Comment on this story »
“I remember when I was at the ECAC’s and I broke 24 seconds,” she said. “And then coach told me how many mistakes I made. It was like an epiphany. I felt I could even do better.”

And she has. Gagne keeps lowering her times to jaw-dropping standards. She’s the No. 1 seed in Division II in the 200 and the favorite in the 400 running just over 54 seconds. LaSure said her mere presence has put New Haven on the map.

“I got a call from Miami University and they were interested in competing against us. They wanted to know who was coming and I told them Shannon and they said, ‘Why don’t you come down here? We’ll host you.’”

Gagne’s elite training schedule is geared toward cracking a College National qualifying time of 23.25 seconds in the 200. She doesn’t expect to run that fast this weekend as she hasn’t tapered her training for this event. But don’t be surprised if she still blows the field away at New Haven this weekend.

“The other day she jogged it in 23.87,” LaSure said. “She’s never been better.”

LaSure is also sure that Gagne will win the NCAA title.

“She’s going to win, he said. “She’s fantastic.”

But what makes LaSure even prouder of his superstar is Gagne’s work ethic.

“I know that no matter what happens Shannon’s going to compete,” LaSure said. “Anything can happen. Anyone can be beat.

“But we’ve done our homework. Shannon is ready and there’s nothing left to chance. She’s as prepared as she can be.”

Gagne will finish graduate classes in the summer and is planning her wedding shortly thereafter. She jokes about being able to outrun her fiance. “We used to train together, but I can kill him now.”

Then again, there are few people in the nation who can stay with her.

Labels: , , ,

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home