BATON ROUGE - Perhaps no athlete in the NCAA has displayed the level of consistency and improvement during the 2012 indoor season quite like Lady Tiger sophomore Denise Hinton as she threw a new personal best in the weight throw for the sixth-straight meet while shattering her own school record during Friday's LSU Twilight at the Carl Maddox Field House.
And after recording a series-best mark of 68 feet, 3 ¼ inches on her fifth attempt Friday afternoon, Hinton moved into the Top 10 of the NCAA rankings as the nation's No. 8-ranked performer for 2012.
Hinton took control of the competition early while throwing the 20-pound implement a distance of 63-6 ¾ on her second attempt of the preliminary round. She then improved to 65-4 in the third round of throws before raising her own school record by 16 inches with a career-best 68-3 ¼ on her fifth attempt.
A native of Peachtree City, Ga., Hinton captured her third weight throw title of the season and second win in as many meets after setting her previous best of 66-11 ¼ at the Tyson Invitational last weekend.
She finished more than seven feet farther than fellow Lady Tiger sophomore Karen Henning, who threw a personal best of her own en route to a second-place finish. Henning actually recorded two PRs at 59-11 ¼ on her first throw and 60-10 on her fourth throw for the No. 4-ranked mark in school history.
"The weight isn't anything like throwing the hammer," Hinton said. "You can't keep throwing it the same way you can with the hammer. We might take 20 or 30 throws a day with the hammer, but with the weight, you have to concentrate on each throw and take advantage of each one. I try to get as many really good reps as possible. I try to work on something different with each rep, and it just comes together."
Hinton will look to secure her spot at the NCAA Championships next weekend while making her debut at the SEC Indoor Championships as she is the league's No. 1-ranked performer this season.
Hinton has shown a steady progression throughout the 2012 season, which also includes throws of 58-7 ½ at the Crimson Tide Indoor Opener, 63-2 at the Texas A&M Dual Meet, 66-1 ½ at the Razorback Invitational and 66-7 at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational.
"Staying relaxed will be the biggest thing for me," Hinton said. "When you relax and remember coaching and what you've been doing in practice, that's when you throw your best. I'll be excited because it's a big meet, but I need to treat it like any other day. SECs to me is all about doing my best to score points for the team, but also getting better and preparing for nationals."
Like Hinton, Tiger junior Rynell Parson took one step closer to NCAA Championships qualification after winning his first collegiate 60-meter dash championship with his first personal best as an LSU Tiger.
After beating senior teammate Keyth Talley (6.73) to the finish line in the first prelim heat with the fastest time of the qualifying round at 6.72 seconds, Parson blew away the rest of the field in the final with a new personal record of 6.66 to sprint into a tie for the No. 13 position in the NCAA rankings this year. He won this year's LSU Twilight crown ahead of former Tiger All-American Gabriel Mvumvure (6.72).
A native of San Antonio, Texas, Parson improved his previous PR of 6.67 set as a high school junior back in 2008 as he tied the No. 4-ranked time on LSU's all-time indoor performance list.
Talley followed with a fourth-place finish in the 60-meter dash after running 6.75 in the final. Two Tigers joined Parson with personal bests in the final as sophomore Ben Guarisco earned a seventh-place finish in 6.88 and sophomore Shermund Allsop followed with an eighth-place finish in 6.89.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers captured five other event titles at this year's LSU Twilight while wrapping up the regular season with their first home meet of the year at the Carl Maddox Field House.
Senior Barrett Nugent took home a thrilling victory over former Oklahoma standout Ronnie Ash (7.80) in the final of the men's 60-meter hurdles with his time of 7.78, while junior Takeia Pinckney made it a clean sweep of 60-meter dash titles for LSU with her time of 7.36 in Friday's event championship.
In the field events, senior Rachel Laurent led the way with her win in the women's pole vault in clearing a seasonal-best height of 13-4 ½, while freshman Tori Bliss won the women's shot put with a near personal best of 51-4 ¼ and freshman Jeremy Tuttle won the men's weight throw with a toss of 54-4. Tuttle posted a PR in his 11th-place finish in the shot put with a series-best effort of 46-11.
Lady Tiger freshman Alex Gochenour set two indoor personal records during Friday's action after posting back-to-back PRs of 8.82 and 8.71 in the 60-meter hurdles and clearing 5-3 ¼ in the high jump.
Four other Lady Tigers set indoor PRs during Friday's LSU Twilight, including juniors Siedda Herbert (7.47) and Latoya McDermott (7.63) in the 60-meter dash, sophomore Brianne Bergeron in the pole vault (11-7 ¾) and sophomore Katie Carroll in the weight throw (41-4 ½).
In addition, Tiger freshman Aaron Ernest set a lifetime personal best with his fifth-place finish in the long jump as he jumped a series-best 23-11 ½ on his first attempt of the competition.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers kick off the championship season next weekend with a trip to Lexington, Ky., to compete at the 2012 Southeastern Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships scheduled for Feb. 24-26 at Kentucky's Nutter Field House. The Lady Tigers will look to defend their SEC Indoor title while the Tigers are aiming to improve upon their third-place finish from a year ago.