Big improvement

Wilson star a triple threat, and he’s still gaining steam
By LARRY RUBAMA, The Virginian-Pilot
© May 30, 2003

PORTSMOUTH — LaShawn Merritt has been called many names, and some haven’t been so kind.

But the latest name he’s hearing, “The Beast,” is not a putdown; it’s praise for his accomplishments on the track.

In two short months, Merritt, a Wilson High School junior, has gone from an unknown to one of the most talked-about male athletes in the Eastern Region. The talk is sure to continue today and Saturday when he competes in the Group AAA state track meet at Sports Backers Stadium in Richmond.

Merritt is one of the favorites to win the 200 and the 400 meters. He also is a contender in the 100.

“I’m not the least bit surprised,” said Wilson track coach Roscoe Coles, a former standout athlete at Bayside. “I know what he’s capable of. I’m just happy he’s getting the opportunity to let other people see it.’’

Merritt is seeking to become the school’s first state track champion since LaTasha Colander won three titles in 1994, and its first male state champion since Curtis Franklin won the discus in 1979.

That’s saying a lot for an athlete who barely competed last season. Merritt won the Eastern District 200 meters and finished third in the 100. But his times were nowhere close to what he’s running now. [b]He ran 23.01 last season in the 200; this season, he has run 21.59.

In the 100, he ran 11,67. This season, he’s down to 10.83. [/b]

In the 400, he has run 49.16 — and he just started running that event a few weeks ago. What has helped Merritt is his strength. At 6-foot-3, he uses his long strides and upper-body strength to power past opponents.

Two weeks ago at the Eastern District meet, Merritt won the 100 (10.83), 200 (21.59) and 400 (49.53).

Last week at the Eastern Region meet, he won the 200 (21.68) and the 400 (49.16), and finished runner-up in the 100.

“I had to run well in the 400 because I messed up so bad in the 100,” he said. “Running like I did showed me that maybe I can run with the big dogs.”

His performance at the region meet caught the attention of many athletes, including Deep Creek sprinter Derron Flood, a senior.

“He’s going to be the next best thing around here,” Flood said.

Flood should know. During the indoor season, he ran 1:04.09 in the 500 meters, the fastest high school time in the nation last season. He was expected to be one of the nation’s top 400-meter runners but a pulled hamstring has sidelined him for most of the season.

Seeing Merritt run makes Flood think of himself when he began running — raw but full of potential.

“He’s going to be even better when he learns how to run the 400,’’ Flood said. “I have a strong feeling that he’s going to be the best.”

Merritt’s running has people talking at Wilson, and, if all goes well, he’ll bring the school another state title.

“He’s ready to go out and end this year with a bang,’’ Coles said. “He’s gotten better with every meet. I think he’s ready.’’


400 - Lashawn Merritt VA 45.25

and i believe he ran a sub 10.5 and sub 20.9

that was at the beginning of the season i suppose

actually that was the beginning of his junior year or the middle yea the middle

2002 was his sophomore year and those improvements seem right since he isnt listed for anything before 2003

HS Indoor 200m (00:21.62)
2004-03-13 Nike Indoor Classic 00:21.62 PR
HS Indoor 300m (00:33.51)
2004-01-09 CNU Showcase 00:34.60
2004-01-17 FUMA Invitational 00:35.64
2004-01-30 Microtel Invitational 00:33.51 PR
2004-02-23 Eastern Region Meet 00:34.65
2004-03-04 VHSL Group AAA State Meet 00:34.56
HS Indoor 400m (00:47.88)
2004-03-13 Nike Indoor Classic 00:47.88 PR
HS Indoor 500m (01:04.09)
2004-01-17 FUMA Invitational 01:07.61
2004-01-30 Microtel Invitational 01:04.83
2004-02-23 Eastern Region Meet 01:06.95
2004-03-04 VHSL Group AAA State Meet 01:04.09 PR
HS Indoor 55m (00:6.33)
2004-01-09 CNU Showcase 00:6.40
2004-01-17 FUMA Invitational 00:6.42
2004-01-30 Microtel Invitational 00:6.33 PR
2004-02-23 Eastern Region Meet 00:6.36
2004-03-04 VHSL Group AAA State Meet 00:6.39
HS Outdoor 100m (00:10.38)
2003-05-23 Eastern Region Meet 00:10.83
2003-05-30 VHSL Group AAA State Meet 00:10.81
2004-05-01 Landstown Invitational 00:10.38 PR
2004-05-06 Loucks Games 00:10.43
2004-05-12 Eastern District Meet 00:10.47
2004-06-04 VHSL Group AAA State Meet 00:10.47
HS Outdoor 200m (00:20.69)
2003-05-23 Eastern Region Meet 00:21.68
2003-05-30 VHSL Group AAA State Meet 00:21.59
2004-05-01 Landstown Invitational 00:20.69 PR
2004-05-06 Loucks Games 00:21.02
2004-06-04 VHSL Group AAA State Meet 00:21.13
2004-06-12 USATF State Meet 00:21.14
2004-06-18 adidas Outdoor Championships 00:20.80
2004-06-25 USATF Junior Nationals 00:20.72
HS Outdoor 400m (00:45.24)
2003-05-23 Eastern Region Meet 00:49.16
2003-05-30 VHSL Group AAA State Meet 00:47.90
2004-04-17 Morgan State Legacy Track Meet 00:45.88
2004-05-12 Eastern District Meet 00:49.66
2004-05-28 Eastern Region Meet 00:47.90
2004-06-04 VHSL Group AAA State Meet 00:47.69
2004-06-18 adidas Outdoor Championships 00:45.38
2004-06-25 USATF Junior Nationals 00:46.80
2004-07-12 IAAF World Junior Championships 00:45.24 PR

I would of loved To see Merritt race Xavier Carter at 400 Meters this past spring. A shame it did not happen. That could of been one of the greatest 400 meter races in High School Track And Field History.

who do you think would have won?

I think this would of been a very tight race, Merrit has so much power and has 20.69 200 meter speed. Carter at his Florida State Meet tripled winning the 100, 200 and 400. His 400 time was 45.44, after trial rounds of the 100 and 200. Then he came back and ran 20.72 in the 200. Carter ended his season early to go to sumemer football training at LSU, I think if he kept running he could of been around 45.0 or possibly sub 45. If they raced at 400 meters i would say that Carter edges out Merritt.

I go with merritt if he raced carter or someone who can stick with him the whole race i suspect a sub 45 cause i’ve seen him run and he looks very strong

I have seen both in action, Carter ran a lot of spactacular times after running multiple events. He really never had much competiton besides Ricardo Chambers. I would expect a real close race.

but dont you think thats a huge improvement?carter it seems has always been fast but merritt has big improvements

Just because Merrit has had big improvements does not mean he would defeat Carter. In the 200 I would take Carter, the 400 is up for grabs, Carter ran 45.44 at his state meet, then did not run the 400 again for the season, so i think he could of def went lower.

the thing about big improvements is not related to if they race i was just pointing out he made big improvements

Ok, I thought you were implying that, but i see. Would of been a hell of a race, but if i had money i would lean towards Carter with both in the range of 45.0.