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Shaw's rise to discus national champ

By Jacob Knabel on Jun. 1, 2018 in Track & Field

Adrianna Shaw appeared as a guest on the Bulldog Coaches Show (hosted by Tyler Cavalli) that aired on May 31 on 104.9 Max Country. That interview can be heard herehttp://ktmxfm.streamon.fm/listen-pl-446.


When Adrianna Shaw (or Addie as most call her) first appeared at Concordia as a high school athlete, she wanted Concordia throws coach Ed McLaughlin to know something. The discus just wasn’t her thing.

Shaw discussed the subject in this week’s radio interview. Said Shaw, “I came in with my best event primarily being the shot put and my favorite event being the shot put. I told Coach McLaughlin coming in that I didn’t even want to throw the discus. He said I didn’t have a choice so I guess that kind of worked out.”

It worked out in the form of a discus national title on May 26 when Shaw emerged as somewhat of a surprise winner on the final day of the 2018 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships. Shaw went from scratching on each of her three attempts in the discus at the 2017 national championships to the top of the podium. She exchanged emotional hugs with teammates, McLaughlin and her parents who were all there in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Less than a week later, it’s still a bit tricky for Shaw to grasp what happened. She thought this type of glory would someday be possible, but not necessarily this early in her career and not necessarily in that event.

“People keep sending me text messages and Facebook posts and all that kind of stuff,” Shaw said. “I read all that stuff and it hasn’t quite sunk in yet. I don’t know when it’s going to happen.”

McLaughlin just couldn’t allow Shaw to give up on the discus. He knew of her potential having seen her in high school and having worked with her at Concordia’s throws camps. Let’s be honest, this isn’t exactly an underdog story. A native of Bassett, Neb., who just completed her sophomore year, Shaw won discus state titles as a junior and senior and a shot put state championship as a senior during a standout career for Rock County High School.

She was preparing herself for moments like last week, she just needed to be convinced to make discus her thing.

“Every time she came to camp she refused to work on discus,” McLaughlin said. “The end of her junior year she wins discus at state and she comes here over the summer for camp. I’m like, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to work on discus?’ ‘Nope, we’re just going to work on shot today.’ I told her the whole time I recruited her that there’s no way I’m taking a state champion discus thrower and not having her throw discus. It was never really a conversation. She knew she had to do it and be able to deal with it.”

Shaw’s winning discus mark at the national championships came in at 154’ 4,” which actually fell short of her personal best. But what she did better than anyone else was persevere through the weather delays that messed with the mental games of each competitor. Shaw also had to put aside her disappointment from what had occurred in the shot put a day earlier.

Shaw led all the way through the preliminaries thanks to her opening toss of 154 feet. She added four inches to that number on her first throw of the finals. No one else managed to hit 154 feet. Shaw had etched her name into the record books, recording the 56th individual national title in Concordia track and field history.

After being soaked with water bottles courtesy of her teammates, Shaw reflected upon the meaning of winning a national title immediately after the competition had finished. Said Shaw, “I definitely didn’t expect for it to be this early, especially in this event. It’s special because our throws program is so well-known. To be able to add my name to that list is pretty special.”

Shaw has made herself comfortable nearly four hours from her hometown of Bassett, located in northern Nebraska. Concordia first came on her radar following her freshman year at Rock County. A high school competitor told Shaw that Concordia’s throws camps were “the best camps I’ve ever been to.” Shaw decided to check it out. It wasn’t too long before her college choice became clear.

“I started coming and right off the bat I clicked really well with Coach McLaughlin,” Shaw said. “Terminology clicked really well and he knew how to work with me. I hadn’t really had a coach interact with me the way that he does. The next two years I visited different schools. I visited Concordia twice just to make sure. I had a couple other college visits lined up after that and my mom canceled them. She goes, ‘We all know that you are going to go to Concordia.’”

These national titles never get old for McLaughlin, who has now overseen 14 individual throws national championships since the beginning of 2014. For some perspective, only Hastings (10) and Olivet Nazarene (nine) can come even close to the same number of throws national titles among NAIA schools over that time period. Liz King first opened up the floodgates at the 2014 outdoor national championships.

Shaw is one of six different athletes to win titles under McLaughlin’s tutelage. “This year the first two days (at nationals) had been rough,” McLaughlin said. “Day three wasn’t looking very good either with the rain delays and the conditions of the field. By the end of it when the last girl didn’t pass her and we knew she had it won, I was so ecstatic for her. It was such a relief from the long weekend. I was so emotionally charged because of everything else that had gone on. I was so excited, completely happy for her.”

Shaw may not like to hear it, but it seems the discus has taken over as her No. 1 event. If McLaughlin’s beliefs that Shaw can push 170 feet in the discus come to fruition, Shaw may reach the top of the podium again before her career is finished.

Says Shaw, “I definitely made the right choice coming here. This is more than I could have asked for from a team. It’s been a really great experience so far.”

Throws national champions under Coach Ed McLaughlin
2018 Outdoor – Adrianna Shaw (discus)
2018 Indoor – Samantha Liermann (shot put)
2017 Outdoor – Cody Boellstorff (hammer throw)
2017 Outdoor – Samantha Liermann (shot put)
2017 Indoor – Cody Boellstorff (weight throw)
2017 Indoor – Zach Lurz (shot put)
2016 Outdoor – Liz King (hammer throw)
2016 Outdoor – Zach Lurz (shot put)
2016 Indoor – Cody Boellstorff (weight throw)
2016 Indoor – Zach Lurz (shot put)
2015 Outdoor – Cody Boellstorff (hammer throw)
2015 Indoor – Zach Lurz (shot put)
2015 Indoor – Josh Slecha (weight throw)
2014 Outdoor – Liz King (javelin)