MCHS alum prepping for LSU career
Bernie Moore Stadium has been home to some of LSU’s best sprinters through the years.
Come this spring, add Morgan City High School alum Vernon Norwood to the list of those hoping to etch their mark in Tiger track and field lore as the former prep and junior college standout at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, suits up for the Tigers’ track team.
Even before joining LSU’s track team, Bernie Moore and Norwood have had some history, including one not so positive moment.
As a senior in high school, Norwood ran what was then the third-fastest time in the country in the 400-meter dash at 46.31, falling to fellow prep standout Kavahra Holmes, who ran a 46.61.
Unfortunately, Norwood‘s time didn’t stand as he was disqualified due to a lane violation on the final turn.
Two years later, though, and after the first of two successful seasons at South Plains College where he registered a U.S. Olympic Trial qualifying mark in the 400 meter dash as a freshman, Norwood decided LSU would be his home for the remainder of his collegiate career.
While home on break during the Thanksgiving holidays, Norwood talked about his preparations for his first indoor season as well as that eventful day at Bernie Moore.
“It taught me a lot,” Norwood said of the blunder. “Me and (LSU head track and field coach Dennis Shaver), we talk about it. We make fun about it all the time about how I got DQ’d and now how I’m back. It’s pretty ironic ... It was a learning experience, but I’m pretty much happy and ready to start.”
Norwood said choosing to attend LSU was “one of the greatest decisions I think I’ve made in my life.”
“I just couldn’t see myself nowhere else,” he said. “Everything’s great there — the coaching staff, the school, the people around there. It’s good to see some people back here (who can) come see me run.”
Norwood certainly has built up a reputation during his time away with an illustrious career at South Plains College where, in addition to individual honors, he was part of two outdoor National Junior College Athletic Association national team titles.
He comes to LSU as a six-time NJCAA All-American.
At South Plains, he won four national titles — three of those as a member of the 4x400 relay team. The 4x400 relay won the last two outdoor national titles as well as an indoor title in 2013.
Also during his sophomore season, Norwood won the NJCAA national indoor title in the 600-meter run in 1:17.04, breaking the 14-year-old meet record and the school mark.
Norwood also was the junior college indoor national leader in the 400 meter during his sophomore season, and he earned All-American honors with second-place finishes in the 400-meter dash in 2012 (46.42) and 2013 (45.75) at the NJCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
The Morgan City alum, who came to the area from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, also is South Plains’ indoor record holder in the 600-yard run as he set the mark with a winning time of 1:08.80 at the 2013 Texas Tech Red Raider Open.
In addition to personal bests of 46.02 in the indoor 400 meter dash and 45.56 in the outdoor 400 meter run, Norwood also owns personal bests of 20.93 in the 200-meter dash.
Norwood said his goal for his first season at LSU simply is to win.
He already has experience with SEC caliber competition, too as he and his teammates on South Plains’ 4x400 meter relay beat LSU in at an indoor meet as freshmen, finishing second behind Arkansas.
Norwood is expected to compete in the 400 meter dash and the 4x400 at LSU.
As for how he thinks he fits in with the relay, Norwood said: “I fit right in there. I’m pretty much that missing piece they always needed.”
LSU will begin its indoor season Saturday in Birmingham at the Auburn Indoor Invitational.
The Tigers’ first home meet will be the Tiger Twilight, held Feb. 21 at Maddox Field House.