IN 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 senior Family and Consumer Sciences major from Great Bend, Kan., has managed to do just that.

Richards came to PSU in the fall of 2007 as a basketball and track recruit.

“We were fortunate to get Larissa,” said Head Women’s Basketball Coach Lane Lord. “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,” said Richards. “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 ACL, 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,” said Richards. “My teammates, coaches and parents helped me get through it.”

“I know one of her roughest moments was going through her second year of college without being able to compete,” said Lord. “Larissa’s family has played a huge role in her overcoming adversity.”

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 two 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. 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,” said Assistant Track Coach Brian Mantooth.”

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.

Richards’ RecordsThrough Adversity to the Top

School record for most single season blocks (49)
MIAA Indoor Championships: 5th Shot Put
MIAA Outdoor Championships: 1st Discus, 3rd Shot Put
NCAA Division II Outdoor National Championships: 3rd Discus, 6th 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: 3rd Shot Put
NCAA Division II Indoor National Championships: 7th Shot Put
MIAA Outdoor Championships: 3rd Discus, 3rd Shot Put
NCAA Division II National Championships: 2nd Discus, 9th Shot Put