PITTSBURG — In NCAA Division-II athletics, two-sport athletes are few and far between.
It’s even more rare to have an athlete be successful in two sports that overlap.
Larissa Richards, a family and consumer sciences major at Pittsburg State University, has managed to do just that.
A product of Great Bend High School, Richards came to PSU in the fall of 2007 as a basketball and track recruit.
“We were fortunate to get Larissa,” Pitt State women’s basketball coach Lane Lord said. “I have watched Larissa play since she was a freshman in high school and she was a D-I caliber athlete who we are very happy to have.”
The decision to compete at Pitt State was the easy part for Richards.
“I liked how involved the community was with PSU and the athletic programs,” Richards said. “When I came down for my visit, I fell in love with the team.”
But sticking with her decision in the face of adversity required both character and commitment. In the first game of her freshman year, Richards tore her anterior cruciate ligament, ending both her basketball and track seasons. She played six basketball games her sophomore year, before suffering another season-ending injury.
“At first it was hard to stay positive,” Richards said. “My teammates, coaches and parents helped me get through it.”
One of her roughest moments, according to Lord, was going through her second year of college without being able to compete.
“Larissa’s family has played a huge role in her overcoming adversity,” Lord said.
Richards returned to competition her junior year and after two full seasons of basketball and track and numerous conference and national accolades, has proved she is capable not only of succeeding, but excelling in overlapping sports.
“She is such a competitor and wants to win so bad, that each year she has chosen to compete in at least one meet during basketball season,” PSU assistant coach Brian Mantooth said.
“When she decided to compete in the indoor conference meet this past year, we arranged to pick her up in Kansas City from an afternoon basketball game in Nebraska, so she could throw the next day at Central Missouri.”
Richards’ coaches attribute her success to a combination of an incredible work ethic, a highly competitive spirit and the never-ending support of her family and teammates.
at Pittsburg State
School record for most single season blocks (49)
MIAA Indoor Championships: Fifth place, Shot Put
MIAA Outdoor Championships: First place, Discus; Third place, Shot Put.
NCAA Division II Outdoor National Championships: Third place, Discus; Sixth place, Shot Put
School record for most single season blocks (58)
School record for career blocks (114)
Stadium record in the Shot Put
MIAA Indoor Championships: Third plac, Shot Put
NCAA Division II Indoor National Championships: Seventh place, Shot Put
MIAA Outdoor Championships: Third place, Discus; Third place, Shot Put
NCAA Division II National Championships: Second place, Discus; Ninth place, Shot Put