BYU track star setting records, contending for national titles

PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - Shaquille Walker is perhaps the fastest man ever to compete on the BYU track and field team.

"I don't know about that," Walker said with a laught. "There have been some pretty fast runners here."

Well, nobody in school history has ever run faster in the 800 meters. Walker actually has the second fastest time in that event in the entire country this year at 1:46:50, and will try to take home the national title next week in Oregon.

Not bad for a guy that wasn't even close to setting records in high school in Georgia.

"It wasn't like this kid is going to be one of the best in America one day," Walker said. "I had no idea it was going to happen. I just came here trying to be competitive with the great runners that were here."

Walker, who chose BYU when his girlfriend convinced him to take a trip to Provo, actually has a chance to win two national titles in Eugene. He anchors the Cougars 4X400 relay team, which along with Mario Harper, Sean Adams and Jesse White, is ranked 6th in the nation. The Cougars just broke a 44-year-old school record.

"We have four guys that are running top-10 times all-time at BYU at the same time," Walker said. "So, it's really special to have those guys here. They do most of the work, I just finish it."

So how has Walker developed into such an elite runner? He says it's all about strategy. Rather than waiting to make his move late in the race, Walker likes to take the lead early on the first lap.

"If I'm in the back of the race after the first half, I just mentally lose contact," he said. "I'm like, 'I can't do this. They're already way up there.' But I notice that if I just go after it, just try to get away from everyone and have them try to chase me, then mentally I'm like, 'I'm not going to let them catch me. I can do this.'"

In case you're wondering, yes, Shaquille Walker was named after Shaquille O'Neal. He said his dad was a huge Shaq fan.

"I think I disappointed him when he realized that I wasn't going to be 7 feet tall and I wasn't going to be 300 pounds," he said.

But Walker is a runner, and now he has a chance to bring a national title back to BYU.

Click on the video to see what happens when Good 4 Utah's Dana Greene challenges Walker to a race. It's not pretty.

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