COLUMBIA, Mo. – Junior Denise Hinton certainly showed a flare for the dramatic in Friday’s hammer throw final as she unleashed a six-foot personal best of 202 feet, 0 inches on her final throw of the afternoon to put the Lady Tigers on the scoreboard while claiming All-SEC honors with a runner-up finish at the 2013 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Hinton found herself in third place with a fair throw of 195-2 on her second attempt and held that position behind Georgia’s Elizabeth Tepe and Auburn’s Daina Levy into the sixth and final round of throws.
Tepe and Levy also posted their best marks in the second round of the prelims as Tepe took a commanding lead with a throw of 203-4 and Levy also posted a mark of 195-2 that was just one centimeter clear of Hinton.
But Hinton saved her best for last as she stepped into the circle and uncorked a throw of 202-0 to leapfrog Levy and capture her first career all-conference honor in the outdoor hammer throw. Not only did Hinton soar past her previous career-best finish of 15th place at the SEC Championships as a freshman in 2011, but she also smashed her previous personal record of 195-11 set in her 2013 opener at the LSU Relays on March 22.
A native of Peachtree City, Ga., Hinton garnered All-SEC honors for the second time during the 2013 season as she was crowned the SEC Indoor champion in the 20-pound weight throw for her first career All-SEC honor at the SEC Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. She now ranks No. 21 in the NCAA hammer rankings with her personal best of 202-0 on Friday afternoon.
The Lady Tigers tallied 12 points with their effort in Friday’s hammer throw as junior teammate Karen Henning scored four points with a fifth-place finish as she opened with a best of 185-5 on her first attempt.
“I don’t know where that came from. It kind of came out of nowhere,” Hinton said of her final throw. “I was making a couple of mistakes on my earlier throws. Coach (Derek Yush) was like I needed to stay low and quit popping up like I was doing. He told me to put my second wind in harder and build up my speed. The speed I needed wasn’t the speed that I had on that last throw. I did that and it worked.
“I didn’t think about scoring more points right when it happened, but I’m so happy to help my team like that. Third place was great, but I knew I had one last chance to move up from that.”
While Hinton and Henning opened the scoring for the Lady Tigers, senior distance ace Laura Carleton put an exclamation point onto the end of the day with a school-record-setting performance in the 10,000 meters.
Carleton certainly made her first career 10,000-meter race one to remember as she turned in a fourth-place finish with a run of 34 minutes, 1.65 seconds, smashing LSU’s 25-year-old school record in the event by more than one minute as former Lady Tiger Lisa Reed set the previous mark of 35:27.94 during the 1988 season.
Carleton’s performance also marked the highest finish by a Lady Tiger in the 10,000 meters in the history of the SEC Outdoor Championships as she added five big points to LSU’s team score with her fourth-place finish. She found herself in a lead pack of four for much of the race while battling for position with Kentucky’s Chelsea Oswald, Arkansas’ Semehar Tesfaye and Florida’s Florence Ngetich. Oswald took the title in 33:38.35 over Tesfaye (33:49.78) in second place, Ngetich (33:56.13) in third place and Carleton (34:01.65) in fourth place overall.
It’s certainly another highlight in a record-setting senior season for Carleton as she has also set a new school record in the 5,000 meters with a seasonal-best time of 15:44.41 for the ninth-ranked time in the NCAA here in 2013. She will return to the track on Sunday afternoon to run the 5,000 meters on the final day of this year’s SEC Outdoor Championships.
“It was interesting,” Carleton quipped about her first ever 10k race. “It wasn’t like a typical 10k because it’s more about place at a meet like this. The conditions weren’t ideal to run fast times or anything like that. It was a great time for me since it was my first race, I guess. I started fighting to hang in there in two miles to go. The leaders really took off and I tried to go with them. They were strong down the stretch.
“It went pretty well. I was happy right after the race knowing that I was able to stick with the lead pack the whole time, even when it got hard. I’m just ready now to focus on the next race.”
Friday’s evening session proved fruitful in qualifying for the Tigers and Lady Tigers as they combined for seven finalists who will return to the Audrey J. Walton Stadium track as part of Sunday’s championship finale.
Senior Kimberlyn Duncan has her eyes set on a third-straight SEC Outdoor crown in the 200-meter dash as she led four Lady Tigers advancing to Sunday’s finals while cruising to a heat victory in 22.88 seconds. Duncan is poised to defend her title as her wind-legal 22.88 (+0.9) was the fastest qualifying time of the day by nearly four tenths of a second over Tennessee’s Felicia Brown (23.24).
With a win on Sunday, Duncan would make history as the first sprinter in SEC history to win three-straight SEC Outdoor titles in the women’s 200-meter dash following back-to-back victories in 2011 and 2012.
The Lady Tigers also featured the two fastest qualifiers in the women’s 800 meters as junior Natoya Goule (2:05.38) and senior Charlene Lipsey (2:06.16) each won their respective heats. Lipsey is the reigning champion in the event and has won each of the last three SEC 800-meter titles with a sweep of indoor and outdoor titles in 2012 and a defense of her indoor crown this season. Goule is the reigning NCAA Indoor Champion in the event and is the NCAA leader outdoors with a seasonal-best time of 2:00.76 for 2013.
Junior Nikita Tracey also earned her spot in Sunday’s final in the women’s 400-meter hurdles while winning her heat with a run of 57.70 on a chilly Friday evening in Columbia. Tracey is the SEC’s leading hurdler this year while entering this year’s championship with a seasonal-best and personal-best time of 56.51 in the intermediate hurdles.
Downing grabbed an automatic qualifying spot into the final of the men’s 400 hurdles with his time of 52.77 for second place in the first preliminary heat and the seventh-fastest time of the round. Both Ernest (20.86w) and Mitchell-Blake (21.06) each claimed an at-large berth into the finals of the men’s 200-meter dash while finishing in second place in their respective heats.
“It’s not easy to qualify when it’s cold and windy like it was tonight, but I thought our athletes did a nice job of preparing themselves to run well,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “We probably even added a couple of scoring opportunities that we weren’t really counting on with Quincy in the (400) hurdles and (Nethaneel) in the 200 meters. Those are going to be big points for our team come Sunday.
“We look forward to another big day of qualifying tomorrow. We want our athletes to compete with the same intensity that we saw today to give our teams a chance to make a run at the championship on Sunday.”
Freshman Therese Jernbeck went out with a bang in her first SEC Championships heptathlon by winning the 800-meter run with a new lifetime personal record of 2:13.58. Jernbeck scored a ninth-place finish in the SEC heptathlon with 5,136 points to finish just five points out of scoring position as Texas A&M’s Annie Kunz scored 5,141 points for eighth place in the final standings.
Sophomore Kaitlyn Moreau tallied a personal best of 4,811 points in seven events while finishing in 12th place overall in this year’s heptathlon. She also ran a PR in the 800 meters with a time of 2:33.56.
Arkansas’ Makeba Alcide captured the SEC heptathlon crown by nearly 200 points while scoring 5,968 points in the event. Mississippi State’s NCAA Indoor pentathlon champion Erica Bougard finished in second place as she scored 5,786 points through seven events. Alcide’s winning score of 5,968 is just one point shy of the SEC Championships meet record score of 5,969 points set by LSU’s Sharon Jaklofsky in the 1991 season.
Saturday’s action at the 2013 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships is set to kick off at 1 p.m. CT in the field events and 3:45 p.m. with the first preliminary events on the track. Live results of the final two days of the championship are available online at the official website of Branch Sports Tech at www.branchsportstech.com.
Fans can also receive live updates of the Tigers and Lady Tigers competing at the SEC Championships this weekend by liking LSU Track & Field on Facebook and following @LSUTrackField on Twitter.