BATON ROUGE – Senior Denise Hinton smashed LSU’s 10-year-old school record in the women’s hammer throw while cracking the Top 10 of the NCAA rankings to headline the fourth-annual “Battle on the Bayou” as the Tigers and Lady Tigers swept team titles for the third-straight season in the meet held Saturday afternoon at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium.
Hinton posted a winning mark of 209 feet, 6 inches on her third throw of the competition to raise her hammer PR by more than seven feet and move into the No. 6 spot in the NCAA rankings for 2014.
Hinton actually recorded three throws above her previous personal best of 202-0 entering the meet with a series that included marks of 204-1 on her second attempt and 202-4 on her final attempt of the competition.
Senior Lynnika Pitts, junior Tori Bliss, sophomore Darrell Bush and freshmen Tremayne Acy, Blair Henderson and Jada Martin also took home event titles during this year’s “Battle on the Bayou” with performances that cracked the NCAA’s Top 10 in their respective events through three weeks of the 2014 outdoor season.
The No. 8-ranked Tigers were 60 points clear of the rest of the field in the final men’s team standings while scoring 166 points in the 18 events contested in the men’s competition. Ohio State finished a distance second place with 106 points to their credit, followed by Kansas in third place with 104 points, UCLA in fourth place with 95 points and Mississippi State in fifth place with 74 points on the afternoon.
The No. 8-ranked Lady Tigers were just as impressive while scoring 180 points to defend their home turf with the women’s team title for the third-straight season. Defending NCAA Outdoor champion Kansas piled up a total of 133 points for second place, followed by Ohio State in third place with 109.5 points, UCLA in fourth place with 98 points and Mississippi State in fifth place with 42.5 points.
In all, the LSU Track & Field teams combined to win 14 events as record seven NCAA Top 10 performances and 17 personal-best performances during Saturday’s action at the fourth-annual “Battle on the Bayou.”
“I thought our teams took advantage of a great opportunity to go out and compete on their own track out here today and take another step forward as we quickly progress through this outdoor season,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “It seems like we’ve only just started competing outdoors this year, but we’re now about to hit the midway point of our season before going to the championship meets. That’s why it’s important that our athletes take advantage of these limited opportunities we have to get ready for what is to come in just a few short weeks.
“We had some great teams with us here today, and we want to thank the coaches and athletes at UCLA, Kansas, Ohio State and Mississippi State for making this another great ‘Battle on the Bayou.’ This meet is quickly becoming a highlight of our outdoor season each year, and we couldn’t put together a competition like this without these great teams coming to Baton Rouge.”
Hinton had certainly been chasing LSU’s school record in the hammer throw for the better part of two seasons after ending her junior season a year ago within four feet of the 10-year-old mark of 205-11 set by Britney Henry during the 2004 season. Hinton’s previous PR of 202-0 was set in earning All-SEC honors as the 2013 SEC Outdoor silver medalist during her junior season a year ago.
Hinton took the lead in the second round with a personal best of 204-1 before raising her mark to 209-6 in the third round to stake her claim as the top hammer thrower to ever wear the purple and gold.
Her school record of 209-6 held up through the finals as she captured the women’s hammer title over the runner-up mark of 206-0 for Kansas sophomore Daina Levy. Hinton turned the tables on her former SEC rival as she finished runner-up to Levy at the 2013 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships a year ago when Levy claimed the SEC Outdoor crown during an outstanding freshman season at Auburn.
Hinton now adds the outdoor school record in the hammer throw to the indoor mark in the weight throw she has broken time and time again during her college career, including her best of 73-11 set earlier this season in defending her SEC Indoor title in the weight throw. She wrapped up her indoor season by earning her first career All-America honor as the fifth-place finisher nationally at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
With her performance, Hinton has now achieved one of her own personal goals for the 2014 season as she now sets her sights on an SEC title and All-America honors in the event in her final season as a Lady Tiger.
“I’m really excited. That was definitely one of my top goals for this season. To have that one down in my second meet is really exciting. I’m really happy,” Hinton said following the meet. “I spent a lot of time during this past week watching film and pinpointing my corrections and getting in more reps with a 4k hammer. I worked on making a few adjustments from last week, and that’s what it was all about for me this week. I really told Coach (Derek Yush) I was going to have a big throw this weekend, and to have several big throws was great to see.”
Hinton was not the only Lady Tiger to rocket up the charts with her performance on Saturday afternoon as Martin enjoyed a home opener to remember with personal bests in both the 100 meters and 200 meters.
A freshman from Lithonia, Ga., Martin set a personal best of 11.58 seconds in her collegiate debut in the 100-meter dash while running in the qualifying round at the Texas Relays last weekend. She smashed that effort by more than two tenths of a second on Saturday with a lifetime best of 11.35 (+1.5) run in nipping Ohio State’s Ashlee Abraham (11.38) at the finish line for the win.
Martin followed by sprinting to a wind-legal PR of 23.19 (+0.2) in the first heat of the 200-meter dash that held up for third place in her Lady Tiger debut outdoors in the event. Martin finished as the top collegian during the competition as she trailed Lady Tiger great Kimberlyn Duncan (22.98) and former Kansas All-American Paris Daniels (23.17) across the finish line.
Martin emerged from Saturday’s competition ranked No. 7 nationally in the 100 meters and No. 8 nationally in the 200 meters as one of the NCAA’s top rookie sprinters to join the collegiate ranks for 2014.
Bliss and Pitts each cracked the Top 5 of the national rankings with wins in the field events as Bliss posted the second-best throw of her collegiate career and the No. 3-ranked throw in the NCAA this season at 54-7 ½ to win the women’s shot put and Pitts recorded the No. 4-ranked jump nationally with a wind-aided 42-3 ½ (+2.4) to win the women’s triple jump title on Saturday afternoon. A two-time indoor All-American, Pitts posted a wind-legal personal best in her series with a jump of 41-11 ½ (+1.7) in the fifth round.
Like Martin, two Tiger freshmen each ran personal bests in taking home event titles in their home debuts in the purple and gold as Acy claimed the 100 meters and Henderson won the 800 meters on the men’s side.
Acy returned to action Saturday after pulling up with an injury in his last appearance in the preliminary round of the 200 meters at the SEC Indoor Championships on Feb. 28. After running the third leg with LSU’s 4x100-meter relay team that opened its season with a time of 39.94 for second place in the first final on the track, Acy returned to run a career-best wind-aided time of 10.20 (+3.0) to take the 100-meter title with the NCAA’s No. 6-ranked performance this season. Senior teammate Shermund Allsop followed Acy in second place with a time of 10.30w.
Henderson followed Acy with a victory of his own in the very next event as he raced to an outdoor personal best of 1 minute, 49.60 seconds to win the men’s 800-meter title with the No. 8-ranked time nationally and a No. 1-ranked time among freshmen in the NCAA for 2014. Henderson took the tape ahead of a personal best of 1:49.72 by teammate Julian Parker competing unattached.
Bush, who led off LSU’s national champion 4x400-meter relay during the 2014 indoor season, added a victory in the men’s 400-meter dash with his season-opening time of 46.40 to crack the NCAA’s Top 10 at No. 7 with his effort on Saturday afternoon. Former Tiger All-American Armanti Hayes followed Bush in second place at 46.80, while junior teammate Quincy Downing trailed in third place at 46.83.
Lady Tiger senior Jasmin Stowers lined up in the women’s 100-meter hurdles on Saturday as the two-time defending champion at the “Battle on the Bayou” that included setting the meet record of 13.10 two years ago as a sophomore in 2012. She was certainly the favorite once again as the NCAA’s No. 2-ranked hurdler after running a 12.87w seasonal best at the Texas Relays last weekend.
Stowers defended her “Battle on the Bayou” crown with a wind-legal clocking of 13.08 (+0.7) in Saturday’s final to break her own meet record while crossing the finish line ahead of UCLA’s Trinity Wilson (13.40).
It continues a stellar run of form for Stowers after kicking off her outdoor season at the Texas Relays last weekend with a runner-up finish in the women’s university 100-meter hurdles with a seasonal-best wind-aided run of 12.87 to rank No. 2 nationally to this point of the season. She also clocked a wind-legal seasonal best of 13.01 in the qualifying round at the Texas Relays.
Four other Tigers were crowned event champions during Saturday’s competition to give LSU’s men seven wins in 18 contested events on the afternoon. Senior Shermund Allsop took the men’s 200-meter title with an impressive season-opening time of 20.90 (-0.8) in the first heat, while junior Joshua Thompson ran his fastest hurdle race as an LSU Tiger with a winning time of 13.91 (+1.6) in the men’s 110-meter hurdles. Sophomore Fitzroy Dunkley jumped 50-11 ½ to win the men’s triple jump, and junior Jeremy Tuttle threw 204-10 to win the men’s hammer throw.
The Lady Tigers won seven events of their own out of the 19 events contested on the women’s side as sophomore Mayme Cook kicked off the meet with a winning throw of 148-0 in the women’s javelin and the Lady Tigers ended the meet with a victory in the 4x400-meter relay with junior Chanice Chase, freshman Bealoved Brown, freshman Bryiana Richardson and freshman Travia Jones running 3:40.71.
Redshirt freshman Jeremy Octeau led a host of other Tigers and Lady Tigers setting personal bests during the competition as he raised his PR in the discus throw by more than 11 feet with a seasonal best mark of 161-3 for an eighth-place finish in the men’s discus final. Octeau entered the meet with a previous PR of 150-2 set in his LSU debut at Louisiana Tech’s Jim Mize Invitational on March 22.
UCLA’s defending NCAA champion Julian Wruck took home the men’s discus title over LSU’s NCAA title challenger Rodney Brown by just over a foot as Wruck threw 201-10 to edge Brown’s 200-5 in the finals.
Other Tigers setting personal bests during Saturday’s action were junior Vernon Norwood (20.92) in the 200 meters, sophomore David Collins (181-11) in the hammer, sophomore Terry Hughes (151-0) in the discus and sophomore Philip Moody (198-1) in the javelin, as well as sophomore Travis Pope (4:04.87) and redshirt freshmen Kevin Kirchner (4:14.84) and Aaron Koenck (4:19.85) in the 1,500 meters.
Lady Tiger sophomore Andria Aguilar cracked the school’s all-time Top 10 list while running a personal best in the women’s 1,500 meters as she crossed the finish line in 4:24.86 to finish as the No. 8-ranked performer in the event in school history. Aguilar smashed her previous PR in the event by more than six seconds after entering the meet with a best of 4:30.89.
Three other Lady Tigers set wind-legal personal bests in the sprints during Saturday’s action, including sophomore Kiersten Duncan with a time of 11.72 (+1.5) in the 100 meters and 23.60 (+0.2) in the 200 meters. Junior Mariah Georgetown broke 24 seconds with a PR of 23.98 (+1.1) in the 200-meter dash, while freshman Rushell Harvey raced to a heat-winning time of 11.62 (+0.9) in the 100-meter dash.
With the 2014 outdoor season now in full swing, the LSU Track & Field teams will head back on the road next weekend with a trip to Miami, Fla., to compete at Miami’s Hurricane Alumni Invitational being held Saturday at Cobb Stadium. LSU returns to Miami for the first time in three years when the Tigers and Lady Tigers made back-to-back appearances during the 2010 and 2011 seasons.