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Long Beach State Track & Field

FEATURE: Kash Powell Making History For Long Beach State Track & Field

The562’s coverage of Long Beach State athletics for the 2022-23 season is sponsored by Marilyn Bohl.

Nobody saw Kash Powell coming.

Even Long Beach State distance running coach Shawn Winget was surprised when he met Powell and his family during their 2019 trip from Australia to see some American universities.

“They were just good people, you got the vibe right away,” Winget said. “He’s a great kid, and he kind of fell into my lap. Once I had him for a few weeks I knew he was going to be darn good. He works hard and takes care of business. He’s worked for everything he’s got.”

What Powell now has is the Long Beach State track and field program record for the 800m after he ran 1:47.47 at the NCAA West Regionals in Sacramento last month. Powell qualified for the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas and races in the 800m tonight. If he qualifies, he’ll race in the final on Friday night.

“I was in last place on the last lap (of the NCAA West Regionals race), I was moving up the backstretch and my brain told me, ‘You’re out of this’,” Powell said. “I looked at the clock with 200 meters to go, and it was still a fast time, so I just said, ‘Let’s rip it, keep going.’ So there are those decisions during the race when you can decide to turn your brain off. If you can get over mental barriers your opportunities are endless.”

Powell, 22, is the fourth LBSU distance runner to qualify for the outdoor finals in school history, and first since Chris Low did so in 2015. He also extended a streak of LBSU sending a representative to the outdoor championships for the 19th consecutive year.


As a soccer player growing up in Australia, Powell thought of track as a secondary sport until he really started getting good at it in high school. His whole life changed when he suffered a stress fracture in his foot that would require surgery. When he came back fully healthy Powell proceeded to win the first six 800m races he entered, and he realized he might have a future on the track.

When Powell and his family came to Long Beach to meet Winget, the connection was immediate.

“I love the bloke,” Powell said of his coach. “He showed me the campus and I was hooked instantly. I love the area. He realized I had so much potential and that he could do it with his training.”

“He is so fluid that I didn’t have to do anything with his form,” Winget said. “This kid is smooth. I’ll be watching him practice and yell, ‘Come on, man!’ then look down at my watch and see that he’s two seconds ahead. He makes it look so easy.”

Powell came to LBSU as a walk-on athlete and was having a good freshman season before returning to Australia during the COVID-19 shutdowns. There he won a prestigious 800m race and started to see how Winget’s training was helping him get stronger, so when Powell returned to school he was reinvigorated with boosted confidence.

“I love the (800m) race, but it does hurt,” Powell said of the grueling pace and strategy involved. “But that hurt is worth it at the end when you’re putting up good times, winning and the team is around you.”

“(This season) My goal wasn’t good times, It was just to win,” Powell added. “Not matter who you’re racing. If you win, the times will come. I raced 11 800m races this year and they’ve all been different. I tend to sit 3 or 4 and kick home. I like to make it exciting for the crowd.”

There will be a lot of unique experiences for Powell at the NCAA Championships this week, but he’s not trying to think about it much.

“I’m not setting any expectations,” he said. “But I might as well really have a go for it. I really wanna make the final and potentially score. I’m just going to be aggressive and stick my nose in there. Anything is possible at these big meets.”

Before he races, Powell will continue his tradition of reading himself quotes that he’s written down over the years. He said he has about ten of them, but one sticks out most of all.

“I’ve gone through too much pain to not go through more.”

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.