GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Sophomore All-American Walter Henning seems to make history each time he steps into the circle for the Tigers, and Friday’s competition at the SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships was no different as he became the first LSU athlete in history to be crowned SEC champion in the hammer throw with a mark of 229 feet, 5 inches.
Henning took the lead by unleashing a throw of 228-11 on his first attempt and never looked back as he finished more than 13 feet ahead of Georgia’s Branislav Danis (215-11) for the event title.
A native of Kings Park, N.Y., Henning already holds the LSU school record in the hammer throw and ranks No. 2 in the NCAA this spring with a seasonal-best of 235-11.
More importantly, he earned 10 points for the Tigers with his performance in LSU’s first event of the meet. Senior Rabun Fox (205-4) added four points with a fifth-place finish, while freshman Michael Lauro (203-5) scored two points of his own with a seventh-place finish to lead the Tigers into third place in the team standings with 16 total points.
Henning is also the reigning SEC Indoor champion in the 35-pound weight throw with his victory at the SEC Indoor Championships, while he became the first Tiger to earn All-America honors in the weight throw with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March.
“I know I could have thrown a lot better, but I’m happy that we got the points we did,” Henning said. “That’s what the championship season is all about. I just wanted to score as many points as possible to help my team. This meet isn’t all about individual accolades. I’m very proud to be the first LSU guy to win the hammer at this meet, but my focus was scoring 10 points.
“I know there are some problems in the latter half of the throw that I need to work on. I’m happy to have a couple of weeks before the regional meet to work it out.”
After seeing Henning become the first LSU Tiger to win the men’s hammer throw title at the SEC Championships, junior Kim Williams made a bit of history of her own with a second-place finish in the women’s hammer to become the highest Lady Tiger finisher in the event in team history.
Williams uncorked a seasonal-best throw of 192-3 on her third attempt of the competition to earn her first career All-SEC honor and score eight big points for the Lady Tigers in the team race.
“I thought both of our teams did a good job of opening up the meet with their performance in that event,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “We’ve come to expect that from Walter, and he did another outstanding job today. But I’m so proud of Kim Williams for coming out here and getting eight big points for our women’s team when she was only supposed to get four or five.
“It gives our team a big lift when our athletes go out early in the meet and perform like that. That group has performed well for us all season long and showed that once again today.”
The Lady Tigers also enjoyed an outstanding day of qualifying on the track to put themselves in a position to compete for their third-straight SEC Outdoor crown as seven athletes advanced from Thursday’s preliminary rounds into Sunday’s championship finals held at Percy Beard Track.
Junior All-American Samantha Henry led a group of four Lady Tiger qualifiers into the final heat of the 200-meter dash by clocking the fastest prelim time with a seasonal best of 23.09 seconds in her qualifying heat. She will be joined in the event final by sophomore Kenyanna Wilson (23.56), junior Kristina Davis (23.85) and junior Liann Kellman (23.94).
Three Lady Tiger also qualified for the final of the 800 meters to be run on Sunday. Brittany Hall ran a personal best of 2 minutes, 5.24 seconds to lead the way, while Kayann Thompson (2:06.42) and LaTavia Thomas (2:06.50) will also run in the 800-meter final.
“I don’t think our women could have done anything more today to put themselves in a position to compete for the team title on Sunday,” Shaver said. “I even think we snuck a couple more people into the final of the 200 meters than we probably should have. I’m very proud of the way each of them competed today to give them a chance to defend their crown.”
The action at the SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships will resume Saturday with the field events beginning at 11 a.m. CT followed by the first events on the track at 5 p.m.
2009 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships
Friday at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. (All race distances in meters)
1. Tyson David, Alabama, 30:09.50; 2. Girma Mecheso, Auburn, 30:13.53; 3. Scott MacPherson, Arkansas, 30:17.48; 4. Jean-Pierre Weerts, Auburn, 30:18.76; 5. Robert Scribner, Mississippi State, 30:42.57; 6. Michael Spooner, Tennessee, 30:52.75; 7. Lane Boyer, Arkansas, 30:58.09; 8. Rio Reina, Arkansas, 31:04.41.
1. Walter Henning, LSU, 229-5; 2. Branislav Danis, Georgia, 215-11; 3. Nate Rolfe, Georgia, 214-9; 4. John Freeman, Georgia, 211-5; 5. Rabun Fox, LSU, 205-4; 6. Mike Zajac, South Carolina, 203-11; 7. Michael Lauro, LSU, 203-5; 8. David Scheidt, Georgia, 199-8.
1. Gray Horn, Florida, 7,389; 2. Michael Ayers, Tennessee, 7,366; 3. Tommy Barrineau, Georgia, 6,987; 4. Jager Livingston, Auburn, 6,628; 5. Daryl Brady, Mississippi State, 6,573; 6. Antione Lipscomb, Mississippi State, 6,302; 7. Cory Harris, Georgia, 6,236; 8. Kevin Carney, Kentucky, 6,066.
TEAM SCORES (3 events scored)
1. Georgia, 28; 2. Auburn, 18; 3. LSU, 16; T4. Tennessee, 11; T4. Mississippi State, 11; T6. Alabama, 10; T6. Florida, 10; 8. Arkansas, 9; 9. South Carolina, 3; 10. Kentucky, 1.
1. Catherine White, Arkansas, 35:07.50; 2. Denise Bargiachi, Arkansas, 35:13.64; 3. Sara Petrick, Florida, 35:15.39; 4. Laura Garrow, Florida, 35:17.66; 5. Jacy Kruzel, Florida, 35:40.27; 6. Christine Kalmer, Arkansas, 36:00.62; 7. Bridget Lyons, Georgia, 36:02.60; 8. Laurel Pritchard, Auburn, 36:12.77.
1. Angelica Howard, Alabama, 195-10; 2. Kim Williams, LSU, 192-3; 3. Ashley Muffett, Kentucky, 192-1; 4. Juliana Smith, Ole Miss, 185-9; 5. Valentina Srsa, Auburn, 178-4; 6. Laquoya Kelly, Tennessee, 175-1; 7. Davina Orieukwu, Ole Miss, 170-5; 8. Kristin Smith, Kentucky, 168-11.
1. Etienne Chaplin, Arkansas, 5,594; 2. Marrissa Harris, Mississippi State, 5,579; 3. Ashley Trimble, Kentucky, 5,530; 4. Chealsea Taylor, Alabama, 5,406; 5. Laquinta Aaron, Mississippi State, 5,351; 6. Rachel Robbs, Alabama, 5,242; 7. Kettiany Clarke, South Carolina, 5,181; 8. Precious Nwokey, Kentucky, 4,833.
TEAM SCORES (3 events scored)
1. Arkansas, 31; 2. Alabama, 18; 3. Florida, 15; 4. Kentucky, 14; 5. Mississippi State, 12; 6. LSU, 8; 7. Ole Miss, 7; 8. Auburn, 5; 9. Tennessee, 3; T10. South Carolina, 2; T10. Georgia. 2.