Nation’s top sprinter Shawnti Jackson signs with Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE – Shawnti Jackson, the top sprinter in the nation heading into the 2023 high school season, signed a national letter of intent to join the Arkansas Razorbacks program.

A triple medalist at the World U20 Championships as a 17-year-old this past summer, Jackson of Wakefield High School in Raleigh, North Carolina, ranked first in the 100m and second in the 400m among the annual high school All-America team selected by Track & Field News for the 2022 season.

“To sign the No. 1 sprinter in the country, with her talents in the 100, 200 and 400, is huge,” stated Arkansas women’s associate head coach Chris Johnson, who becomes head coach of the Razorback program in the 2023-24 season. “We’re ecstatic and excited. Being able to secure an athlete like that not only brings attention and notoriety to your program, but interest from other high-level athletes as well.

“Shawnti brings a lot of depth to our program, and she is a headliner. She has done well in everything she has done. She participated in the World Juniors, finishing third in the 100 and running on both relays. That shows you what she can do for a team.”

Jackson was the 2022 World U18 and U.S. high school leader in the 100m with a time of 11.15. She also ranked second among high school sprinters, and the top junior, in the 400m with a 52.32 and was fifth in the 200m with a 23.19.

Her 11.15 performance ranks No. 9 performer on the all-time high school list, while a wind-aided 11.07 best ranks her as the No. 4 performer with the No. 6 performance on the all-conditions all-time prep list.

Shawnti is the daughter of Olympian Bershawn Jackson, a bronze medalist in the 400m hurdles at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Bershawn was also a gold medalist in the 400m hurdles at the 2005 World Championships and a member of four World Championships gold medal 4 x 400 relays.

“Her father has done a fantastic job, and he knows the business,” said Johnson. “Also, he’s been very intentional and delicate with her. So, there’s a lot left for her to do. She is still getting better and better.

“With his pedigree and knowledge of the sport in being able to cultivate that as time has transpired, he’s done a fantastic job. It’s our job to move her along even more. We have a gem, she’s a diamond.”

Jackson’s junior high school season included a trio of North Carolina 4A State titles in the 100m, 200m, and 400m where she set a career best time of 52.32 along with times of 11.45 and 23.19. Jackson defended her 4A State titles from 2021 in the 100 (11.48) and 200 (23.06 career best).

In relay action, Jackson anchored the Wakefield 4 x 400 relay to a 4A State title in 2022 and anchored the 4 x 100 relay State winning team in 2021.

After claiming the USATF U20 title in the 100m with a wind-aided 11.07, after an 11.30 in the prelims, Jackson earned a bronze medal at the World U20 Championships in the 100m with her career best of 11.15. During the prelims in Cali, Colombia, Jackson produced times of 11.28 and 11.16.

Running on a pair of United States relays during the World U20 Championships, Jackson anchored the 4 x 100 to a silver medal (43.28) and ran second leg (51.36 split) on the gold medal 4 x 400 (3:28.06).

Indoors, Jackson set national high school records at 50m, 55m, and 60m with times of 6.26, 6.67, and 7.18. Her 60m time is also the World U18 record. Clocking 36.95 in the 300m, Jackson ranks No. 2 on the all-time high school list behind a 36.82 set by Sydney McLaughlin.

Jackson currently has a total of four indoor North Carolina 4A State titles, a pair each in the 55m and 300m, along with a silver medal in the 4 x 200 relay.

Shawnti Jackson | career best times heading into senior season of high school

50 6.26 National HS record, previous 6.28 from 2007
55 6.67 National HS record, previous 6.68(A) from 1996
60 7.18 National HS record, previous 7.19(A) from 2004 & 7.19 from 2020
World U18 record, previous 7.19 from 2020
200 23.23 =No. 5 all-time HS, =No. 3 all-time World U18
300 36.95 No. 2 all-time HS
400 54.94 =No. 5 World U18 in 2022
500 1:13.04 No. 4 HS in 2022, second best junior
100 11.07w No. 4 performer, No. 6 performance all-conditions all-time HS
100 11.15 No. 9 all-time HS, 2022 World U18 leader
200 23.06 No. 2 HS in 2021, top sophomore
400 52.32 No. 2 HS in 2022, top junior