Much will be written heading into the 2014 season about which Lady Tigers will step up to fill the void left behind by the departures of such program greats as Kimberlyn Duncan, Natoya Goule and Charlene Lipsey from last year’s squad. After all, Duncan swept NCAA titles in the 200 meters, Goule swept NCAA titles in the 800 meters and Lipsey added All-America honors in the 800 meters during both the indoor and outdoor seasons a year ago.
But the Lady Tigers return six All-Americans from a team that earned a third-place finish indoors and a fourth-place finish outdoors at the NCAA Championships, while welcoming one of the nation’s top recruiting classes as they look to reload for another championship run in 2014.
Last in a 10-part series previews a great group of throwers competing for the Lady Tigers during the 2014 season.
Returning to lead a deep and versatile throws group this spring are a pair of school-record holders and a host of All-America contenders as they will help lead the Lady Tigers into the 2014 campaign. That includes the return of four NCAA qualifiers in four different throwing events that will provide the team with a solid foundation in the championship meets.
Denise Hinton made history during her junior season a year ago when she became the first Lady Tiger to be crowned the SEC Indoor champion in the 20-pound weight throw before an appearance at the NCAA Indoor Championships once again in 2013.
Hinton broke her own school record with a seasonal-best throw of 70-9 ¼ at the LSU Twilight meet during the regular season before throwing 69-6 ¼ in taking home the weight throw title at the SEC Indoor Championships. She then followed with an All-SEC outdoor season which was highlighted by a silver-medal-winning runner-up finish in the hammer throw final at the SEC Outdoor Championships where she raised her personal best to 202-0 in the event.
Fellow senior Karen Henning also joined the 200-foot club in the hammer throw a season ago when she threw a personal record of 201-0 at the Texas Relays for the No. 4-ranked throw in school history. Henning, who also set an indoor PR of 61-10 ½ in the weight throw, competed for the Lady Tigers in the hammer throw in the NCAA quarterfinals for the second-straight season.
Junior Tori Bliss returns as one of the NCAA’s leading shot putters from year ago during a sophomore season in which she shattered LSU’s outdoor school record with a career-best throw of 55-11 at the Battle on the Bayou during the regular season. A two-time NCAA Championships qualifier in the event, Bliss broke the 19-year-old school record of 54-6 ½ set by Lady Tiger great Danyel Mitchell during the 1994 season.
Bliss also posted a personal best of 162-10 in a fifth-place finish in the discus at the SEC Outdoor Championships to go along with her seventh-place finish in the shot put during the meet. She took fifth place in the shot put at the SEC Indoor Championships a year ago.
Simoneaux returns to action after suffering a season-ending elbow injury last spring after an All-SEC campaign in 2012. Simoneaux threw a personal best of 157-11 in an All-SEC runner-up finish at the SEC Outdoor Championships two seasons ago. Welch was the team’s top thrower a year ago when she threw a best of 153-2 before taking sixth place at the SEC Outdoor meet.
The Lady Tigers also welcome two standout recruits in the javelin as freshmen Rebekah Wales (West Monroe, La.) and Alli Brasuell (Ruston, La.) will compete as Lady Tigers for the first time. Wales won a pair of Class 5A state titles during a prep career in which she threw a best of 158-3, while Brasuell owns a PR of 137-7 in the event.