Torrin Lawrence only needed 20 seconds to sprint into the lead role for Georgia track and field.
Lawrence turned the 2009 indoor track and field season into his own personal blockbuster while delivering Georgia’s first ever SEC Indoor 200-meter dash title. Now, he is looking for an encore in the outdoor season, which began Friday, March 20.
Lawrence has hardly given those who rewrite the track record books much time, either. He ranks first all-time at Georgia in the indoor 200-meter dash after turning in one of the fastest times of this past indoor season (20.77 seconds). This time shattered Georgia’s old mark by 0.28 of a second at the Kentucky Invitational in January—his first ever indoor track meet.
“All the accomplishments so far really have meant a lot to me, but I really look to them as stepping stones to where I want to be,” said Lawrence, the SEC Indoor Male Freshman Runner of the Year out of Jacksonville, Fla.
Recently named an All-American, Lawrence became an integral part of Georgia’s team in the indoor season, and is now looking to translate that success as the events move outside—where times are traditionally even faster.
“With [Torrin] being our only event champion at the SEC Championships, he serves as the feather in the cap of the entire team,” head coach Wayne Norton said. “The entire team has shared in his victories, and it has an encouraging and major effect, which typically falls on the shoulders of an upperclassman.”
No Warning Necessary
There are dangers that come with a 6'1"-inch athlete who can run more than 21 mph—University students can only hope that he is not late and having to run to class.
“You guys don’t have to worry about me running on campus to class or anything,” Lawrence said. “There is something about us sprinters where we are fast when we have to be, but in everything else we do we are very slow.”
Well, he certainly wasn’t slow in his short distance event. Lawrence, along with relay partner Michael Proctor, is tied for third place all-time at Georgia in the indoor 60-meter dash (6.75 seconds).
And his long distance events? His indoor 400-meter dash time (46.18 seconds) is still one of the fastest times recorded in the world in 2009, good enough to land him in second place all-time at Georgia behind relay mate and fellow All-American Justin Gaymon.
Oh, and speaking of their 4×400-meter relay, Lawrence and his teammates captured the top time in school history at the SEC Indoor Tournament.
“Torrin has shown he is extremely versatile as a sprinter, as some [sprinters] can be only short or long distance,” said sprints coach Jon Stuart. “He holds our 200-meter dash indoor record, but his best event could eventually be the 400-meter dash when all is said and done.”
With an athlete as captivating as Lawrence has been this season, Georgia coaches who recruited him had to have some notion of what he was capable of, right?
“We actually had no idea that he was going to be this successful so soon because he had never run indoors at all before this [past] season,” Stuart said. “It normally takes time for a runner to adjust to it, but not with Torrin—he is as talented as any freshman in the country.”
So in a sport judged by hundredths of a second, Lawrence found himself miles ahead on the learning curve. The outdoor season began last weekend when Georgia hosted the Georgia Relays, but Lawrence didn’t run since he competed at the NCAA indoor championships. But when he does run, the competition may not catch Lawrence because he has no plans of slowing down.
“I am looking to get better and beat my [best] time every time I get out there and run,” Lawrence said.
This article was originally published in the Red & Black student newspaper.
Photo credit: Daniel Shirey
Update : Since this article was published on March 24, 2009, the two-time All-American Lawrence has captured an SEC and national title in the indoor 400-meter dash, set the collegiate record in the 300-meter dash and was named 2010 USTFCCCA National Male Track Athlete of the Year. Translation—he is good.