The LSU throws group has flourished in seven 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 2015 while featuring some of the top talent in the NCAA ranks.
The squad looks to carry its momentum into a new season in the wake of a record-breaking campaign in 2014 in which LSU's throwers smashed four school records and took home a trio of All-SEC and All-America honors with their performance in the championship season.
Denise Hinton ended her collegiate career as one of the most decorated throwers in the history of the Lady Tiger program with another record-setting season in leading the team in the SEC and NCAA championships. Not only did Hinton defend her SEC Indoor crown in the weight throw, but she also collected her second career All-SEC honor with the SEC Outdoor silver medal in the hammer throw as one of the top performers in the Southeastern Conference.
But Hinton's senior season in 2014 was highlighted by earning her first and second career All-America honors as she earned fifth-place finishes in both the weight throw indoors and hammer throw outdoors at the NCAA Championships.
Hinton went out with a bang as LSU's school-record holder in both events as she crushed her own indoor mark with a winning mark of 73 feet, 11 inches at the SEC Indoor Championships and an outdoor school record of 218-0 in capturing the hammer throw title at the LSU Invitational to wrap up the 2014 regular season.
Tori Bliss joined Hinton in earning All-America honors for the first time in her collegiate career during the 2014 season as she capped her junior campaign with a record-setting performance in the shot put final at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
After already breaking her own outdoor school record in the event with a mark of 56-9 ¼ at the LSU Invitational, Bliss unleashed a career-best of 57-4 ¼ while scoring the NCAA Outdoor silver medal to earn her first career All-America honor with a second-place finish nationally. That effort was less than one foot shy of winning a national championship as Bliss finished second to a winning mark of 58-2 by Iowa State's Christina Hillman.
Not only did Bliss make history by breaking her own outdoor school record in the event, but she also earned the highest NCAA finish by a Lady Tiger in the shot put at the NCAA meet in either the indoor or outdoor season.
LSU's All-American discus thrower Rodney Brown even set a school record of his own a year ago when he became the most prolific discus thrower in the history of the Tiger program.
After capturing the SEC Outdoor crown and claiming All-America honors with a fourth-place finish nationally at the NCAA Championships to cap his sophomore season in 2013, Brown captured All-SEC honors once again with a bronze-medal-winning third-place finish in the discus final at the SEC Outdoor Championships before again qualifying for the NCAA Championships a season ago to wrap up his junior campaign.
One of the NCAA's top-ranked discus throwers throughout his collegiate career, Brown broke John Nichols' 25-year-old school record of 209-1 in the event with a meet-record throw of 210-10 at the 2014 Penn Relays. He then raised his own school-record mark again to 212-2 with a win at the USA Track & Field Throws Initiative meet held in Chula Vista, California, ahead of an appearance at the USA Outdoor Championships last summer.
In 2013, Brown became the first LSU Tiger in 20 years to be crowned the SEC Outdoor Champion in the discus and the first LSU Tiger in 15 years to pick up All-American honors in the event with his fourth-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
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.
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. 3-ranked mark on LSU's all-time list in the event.
Stokes, who won the SEC Outdoor bronze medal in the discus as a senior in 2012, became the first Lady Tiger in 16 years to be crowned the SEC Outdoor Champion in the event in 2010 by throwing a winning 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, New York, 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 Championship 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 16 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 19 top-five finishes at the NCAA Championships between the indoor and outdoor seasons since 2008.
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.
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.
The Enfield, Connecticut, 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
6 All-American athletes earning 16 All-America honors
4 SEC Champion athletes winning 10 SEC Championships
10 All-SEC athletes earning 20 All-SEC honors
6 LSU 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.