The LSU throws group has flourished in six seasons under the direction of assistant coach Derek Yush, and the Tigers and Lady Tigers are sure to shine among the nation’s elite once again in 2014 while featuring some of the top talent in the NCAA ranks.
Two of Yush’s athletes were crowned SEC champions for the first time in their collegiate careers when Denise Hinton captured the SEC Indoor title in the women’s weight throw and Rodney Brown claimed the SEC Outdoor title in the men’s discus during the 2013 season as each will make their return as team leaders in 2014.
Hinton, who entered her junior season in 2013 as the school-record holder in the weight throw, raised her record mark to 70 feet, 9 ¼ inches during the season before becoming the first Lady Tiger in program history to be crowned the SEC Indoor champion in the event. She also had her first career All-SEC performance in the hammer throw outdoors when a personal best mark of 202-0 in a runner-up finish at the SEC Outdoor Championships.
Brown became the first LSU Tiger in 20 years to be crowned the SEC Outdoor champion in the discus with his dominating victory at the SEC Outdoor Championships where he recorded a winning mark of 203-1 to take the title. He eclipsed 200 feet in the event twice as a sophomore by also throwing a best of 206-3 at the Texas Relays for the No. 2-ranked mark in school history.
Brown also became the first LSU Tiger in 15 years to pick up All-American honors in the discus throw with his fourth-place finish in the event at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Also etching her name in the LSU record books during an outstanding sophomore season in 2013 was Tori Bliss, who took down the 19-year-old outdoor school record in the shot put with a career-best throw of 55-11 at the Battle on the Bayou. Bliss broke the previous record of 54-6 ½ that was set by Lady Tiger great Danyel Mitchell in 1994.
Michael Lauro wrapped up an All-American career with the Tigers in 2012 after claiming five All-America honors in his four seasons at LSU. Lauro saved his best for last at the NCAA Championships while earning career-best finishes of eighth place in the weight throw indoors and fourth place in the hammer throw outdoors at the national meets as a senior in 2012.
Lauro went out as the No. 2-ranked Tiger all-time with her personal records of 72-6 ¼ for the weight throw and 223-0 in the hammer throw during his collegiate career.
The Lady Tigers said goodbye to a pair of All-SEC throwers of their own in 2012 with an outstanding senior season from both Brieanna Kennedy and Samia Stokes.
Kennedy, a two-time NCAA Championships semifinalist, earned All-SEC honors for the first time in her collegiate career as the SEC silver medalist in the hammer throw in 2012. Her top mark of 205-3 on the season is the No. 2-ranked mark on LSU’s all-time list in the event.
Stokes, who won the SEC Outdoor bronze medal in the discus two seasons ago, became the first Lady Tiger in 16 years to be crowned the SEC Outdoor champion in the event in 2010 by throwing a winning mark of 168-5 at the conference meet. Stokes raised her personal best to 181-0 during her senior season to also rank No. 2 on LSU’s all-time list in the discus throw.
The LSU throws group enjoyed its most successful season at the SEC Championship with Yush’s guidance in 2012 as his athletes scored a total of 82 points in conference action.
Yush was also honored following the 2012 season as he had the privilege of serving as the men’s throws coach for Team USA at the North American, Central American & Caribbean Under-23 Championships held in Guanajuato, Mexico.
The 2011 campaign witnessed the end of an era as Tiger great Walter Henning wrapped up an outstanding collegiate career as arguably the premier thrower in program history.
Henning put an exclamation point onto the end of an undefeated 2011 indoor season with a national championship in the 35-pound weight throw while defending his title at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships. Henning posted a series-best mark of 72-8 ½ to take the national title by nearly three feet.
After claiming his third career NCAA crown during the 2011 indoor season, Henning extended his winning streak against collegiate competition to 18-straight events in his outdoor season opener at the LSU Invitational with a victory in the hammer throw. Despite seeing his winning streak come to an end in his next appearance at the Texas Relays, Henning proved to be the NCAA’s most dominant thrower as an upperclassman with an unbeaten mark during the 2010 indoor, 2010 outdoor and 2011 indoor campaigns.
The Kings Park, N.Y., native then took home a bronze medal in the hammer throw during his last event as an LSU Tiger at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
In arguably the most prolific career by a thrower in the program’s history, Henning won a total of three NCAA championships in his three seasons in Baton Rouge. That dominance was also felt by his rivals in the Southeastern Conference with his sweep of SEC championships in the weight throw indoors and hammer throw outdoors in consecutive seasons from 2009-11.
Henning, a seven-time All-American and two-time Bowerman Award candidate during his collegiate career, became the first LSU Tiger in program history to capture NCAA titles in the weight throw indoors and hammer throw outdoors with his championship sweep in 2010.
After taking the weight throw crown at the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships, Henning completed the sweep with a dramatic come-from-behind victory in the hammer throw at the NCAA Outdoor Championships to wrap up his junior season. While Henning trailed Virginia Tech’s Alexander Ziegler with a top mark of 235-6 through five rounds, he took the crown on his sixth and final throw of the competition after posting a mark of 238-10 on his last attempt to wrap up the title more than one foot ahead of Ziegler’s 237-7 effort.
Henning shattered his own school records during his junior season in posting his personal records of 78-1 in the weight throw and 239-5 in the hammer throw during the campaign. With an effort of 78-1 in winning the weight throw at the 2010 SEC Indoor Championships, he established a new meet record while shattering the previous mark of 76-5 by Auburn’s Cory Martin in 2007.
Not only did Henning add the title of national champion to his resume under Yush’s guidance, but he was also crowned World Junior Champion in the summer of 2008 with his gold-medal winning performance in the 6-kg. hammer throw at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, after transferring to LSU from the University of North Carolina. His throw of 252-4 at the IAAF World Junior Championships was an American junior record in the event.
While Yush has now guided his athletes to 13 All-America honors in his stint as LSU’s throws coach, former Tiger javelin thrower Preston Chatham was the first to reach that status with his first career All-America honor during the 2008 outdoor season. Chatham earned a fourth place in the javelin at the NCAA Outdoor Championships while posting a PR of 234-7.
Since Yush joined the LSU coaching staff in 2008, the Lady Tigers have now taken home six SEC championships and one NCAA championship as they continue to add to trophy case as the premier women’s program in collegiate track and field. In fact, the Tigers and Lady Tigers have now combined for 17 top-five finishes at the NCAA Championships between the indoor and outdoor seasons since 2008.
Yush has also coached one of the world’s premier female hammer throwers in Kristal Kostiew following her collegiate career at the University of Vermont. Kostiew, who owns a personal best of 227-2, represented the United States at the 2007 IAAF World Championships in Athletics held in Osaka, Japan, after winning a silver medal at the 2007 AT&T USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. She also claimed her fourth-place finish at the 2007 Pan American Games held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Yush came to LSU in 2007 after spending eight seasons at the University of Rhode Island, where he coached the men’s throws, jumps and multi-events while also acting as an assistant with the cross country team. Rhode Island enjoyed tremendous success under Yush’s guidance as he helped lead the squad to 11 Atlantic-10 Conference titles from 2001-07, including five indoor and six outdoor crowns during his tenure.
The Rams also excelled individually on a national level as Yush coached 24 NCAA Regional qualifiers in six events, while also guiding his athletes to 51 Atlantic-10 championships and 15 New England individual titles in eight events during his tenure at the school.
In addition to his experience at Rhode Island, Yush brings head coaching experience to the position as he served as the head men’s and women’s coach at Eastern Connecticut State University from 1998-99. He actually got his start in the coaching profession at ECSU as he was named the assistant sprints, jumps and throws coach in 1997.
During his time at East Connecticut State, Yush helped develop several All-Eastern College Athletic Conference and All-New England performers, as well as one All-American long jumper.
The Enfield, Conn., native also served two seasons as an administrative assistant at the University of Connecticut where he served as a team captain and helped lead the Huskies to Big East and New England as a senior. He was a consistent scorer at the Big East Championships and was an Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America performer.
Yush has earned a USA Track and Field Level II Coaching Certificate as he is fully certified to coach sprints, hurdles, relays, jumps, throws and multi-events. He is also a certified strength and conditioning specialist after joining the National Strength and Conditioning Association in 1997. He earned a bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Connecticut in May 1997.
The Yush File
2007-Present – Assistant Coach
1999-2007 – Assistant Coach
Eastern Connecticut State
1998-99 – Head Coach
1997-98 – Assistant Coach
Records and Achievements at LSU
2010 USTFCCCA Men’s South Central Region Indoor Assistant Coach of the Year
1 NCAA Champion winning 3 NCAA Championships
4 All-American athletes earning 13 All-America honors
4 SEC Champion athletes winning 9 SEC Championships
10 All-SEC athletes earning 17 All-SEC honors
4 School Records
Served as the men’s throws coach for Team USA at the 2012 North American, Central American & Caribbean Under-23 Championships in Guanajuato, Mexico.