This was Shawnti Jackson's fourth time running at the VA Showcase in her career, and she did not disappoint. The Wakefield junior already has a career's worth of accolades: 55m state champion, 100m state champion, 200m state champion, 300m state champion, and top all-time marks. She has been expanding her range during this indoor season, electing to run the 500m at an early season JDL meet where she clocked 1:13.04, good for NC No. 6 all-time. It was only her second official 500m of her career, with the first being in 2019.
Jackson has been gearing up for VA Showcase and had some dominant runs leading up to this past weekend. She threw down a 6.87 in the 55m at Just Don't Lose Classic at JDL just a week prior. She had clocked 38.06 in the 300m at an early-December JDL meet as well.
All eyes were on Shawnti Jackson Friday afternoon as the junior was scheduled to run in the 55m prelims and the Invitational 300m.
She cruised through the 55m dash prelims, clocking 6.91 and had the top time of the 26 preliminary heats run! She had a couple hours of downtime before the gun was up for the 300m dash. With a track that has already seen dozens of record breaking times, the stage was set for 'The Shawnti Jackson Show'.
Lining up in lane 5 of the 6-lane banked track, there was a special feeling buzzing through the arena. Commentator Brandon Miles said as the gun went up they could be aiming for sub-38.00.
She was not settling for just sub 38.00!
Looking like she was shot out of a cannon Jackson took off with the gun and it only took her 100m to make up the stagger on her outside opponent, Madison Whyte. As the others started to hit the imaginary wall, Jackson just kept extending her lead. She crossed the finish-line emphatically in 36.95!
Jackson ran the second-fastest all-time performance in this event, set a new national junior class record and clocked the third-fastest time in the world for the current 2022 season! She trails only U.S. Olympian and 2020 gold medalist Sydney McLaughlin, (36.82 High School 300m PR, class of 2017).
MileSplit US's Olivia Ekpone caught up with Jackson right after finishing the 300m, where the reality of her time hadn't sank in, "It's great, I don't even know, I'm speechless myself.:
She had the rest of the day to enjoy her great accomplishment and personal best, but the job was not over. She still had the 60m finals (prelims were 55m but finals were 60m with official splits at 50m and 55m) Saturday afternoon. She did not have a personal best in the prelims, but the 300m finals gave her all the momentum headed into Saturday.
"I had to really focus...it is nerve-racking, but it sets me up for the big stage."
Jackson was lined up in lane 4 next to Georgia-native and Florida State signee Kaniya Johnson, in what was one of the most anticipated match-ups of the weekend. Like the 300m, Jackson shot out of the blocks and was out quickly! She held a step advantage over Johnson as they closed in on the finish line and Jackson held on for the win and captured a North Carolina state record! She clocked a new NC No. 1 all-time, 7.25 en route to the win! Her 7.25 is also good for US T-No. 6 all-time!
One of the best parts of VA Showcase is the official 55m split for the 60m dash. Jackson clocked 6.75 for 55m which is also a North Carolina state record!
When asked if she was satisfied with her 7.25, Jackson smiled and simply responded, "yes!"
She finished her weekend as the anchor leg on Wakefield's 3rd-place 4x200m team. They are currently NC No. 2 this season in the event.
What's next for Shawnti Jackson? The sky's the limit, but for now she says she's going to enjoy a "good nap" as she gears up for the NCHSAA State Championship in under a month.