Toledo Christian senior Rowan Shaw is shooting for titles at the Division III state meet in the hurdle events (110 and 300 meters). He placed third in the 300 last year, and has second-best qualifying times in both events in D-III this year.
Toledo Christian's Rowan Shaw won't erupt in celebration if he is the first to cross the finish line at the state track and field meet Saturday in Columbus.
In fact, he'll feel utterly miserable.
Whereas most champions will soak up the moment, Shaw, should he prevail, would be reduced to a crouching position, his neck covered in ice, and his head throbbing to the point he cannot hold a conversation.
Debilitating migraine headaches have afflicted the senior hurdler the past two weekends, cropping up at an unfortunate time of the season as Shaw tries to capture a couple events at the Division III meet at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
In garnering two titles at a regional last week, Shaw set personal best times in the 110 and 300-meter hurdles and enters Friday's preliminaries ranked second in both.
Until a few weeks ago, when he first endured a migraine at a swimming party, Shaw's season had gone by without any hiccups. He was healthy for the first time in his career after battling pneumonia or a foot injury his first three seasons. Dedicating himself to weight lifting for the first time, he packed on 30 pounds of muscle to a 6-foot-4 frame that was screaming for him to beef up. A third-place finisher in the 300 at last year's state meet, Shaw has lost just once this spring, finishing second in the 110 at a meet at St. Francis.
"Other than the migraines," he said, "I feel like I'm at the peak of my season right now."
As painful as they are, Shaw's headaches haven't hindered his performance. At the regional, he established personal best marks of 14.54 and 38.87, this despite TC coach Paul Barney's contention that Shaw "didn't run a very good race in either of those races."
"It [migraines] is not much of an issue in practice," Barney said. "It must be something that when he's putting up 100 percent he gets affected by it. He knows he only has two races to run down there, so he's pretty comfortable."
Joining Shaw in Columbus will be a TC contingent consisting of Matt Oram (3200), Krista Wood (1600, 3200), Delainey Phelps (1600, 3200) and the girls 3200 relay of Wood, Phelps, Darian Westmeyer, and Michelle Wright. Wood is not expected to compete in the 1600, choosing instead to concentrate on the 3200.
The Eagles did not advance in the 1600 boys relay, as a weakened Shaw sputtered in the final 200 meters and couldn't track down the fourth-place finisher.
Rowan Shaw has committed to run track at Eastern Michigan. Earlier this month he began suffering migraine headaches including after running in races.
A doctor's visit Tuesday revealed stress as the cause of his migraines. A self-described "chill" person, Shaw apparently surrendered to pressure induced from graduation and the postseason. Triggered by physical fatigue, Shaw's migraines begin with tenseness in the neck, with pain radiating from the back of his head to the front, creating an "all-around bad feeling." He often wakes up in the morning in pain, and one migraine forced Shaw to the emergency room two weeks ago at the district at Eastwood.
"I don't usually get worked up about too many things," he said. "There's a lot on my plate right now. I guess all of the work is getting to me."
Shaw's most noticeable transformation from last year is his physique. He enrolled in Barney's eighth-period weight lifting class, giving him a structured program unlike those from the past in which Shaw faded away within weeks. Jarring numbers ensued. Shaw increased his squat lift from 190 to 320 pounds, his bench press from 130 to 200, and his body weight from 150 to 180.
"The first two months I was in there, nothing really happened," said Shaw, who is committed to Eastern Michigan. "After that, I started getting a lot more muscle tone and bigger and stronger."
Barney believes Shaw can break the D-III record in both races, an accomplishment heightened by the fact TC does not have its own track and holds its practices in the school parking lot.
Eighteen springs have lapsed with no one able to eclipse records set in 1993 by Fremont St. Joseph's Kevin Huntley in the 110 (13.79) and 300 (37.58). Shaw must trim more than one second in the 300 and about seventh-tenths in the 110.
"We've. talked about his potential to be not only a state champion, but a state record holder," Barney said.
TC has crowned one other champion, in 2004 when Bethany McGraw won long jump. Shaw can join her, but it's unlikely a display of jubilation will follow.
"When I'm running, I block out all of the pain," he said, "and it usually hits me at the end."
Contact Ryan Autullo at: email@example.com, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @RyanAutullo.
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