BATON ROUGE — Despite a relatively quiet indoor season thus far for LSU’s defending NCAA Indoor champion Walter Henning, the senior from Kings Park, N.Y., certainly made his presence felt throughout Friday’s weight throw competition at the LSU Twilight meet while shattering his own Carl Maddox Field House record with a winning mark of 76 feet, 6 ¼ inches.
Henning, who set the previous Carl Maddox Field House facility record during the 2009 indoor campaign with a mark of 72-3 ¾, raised his record by more than four feet to 76-6 ¼ on his fourth throw of the event in taking the title in the very first event of this year’s LSU Twilight.
In fact, Henning posted one of his most impressive series in the 35-pound weight throw during his storied three-year career with the Tigers with four-straight throws of more than 75 feet.
After posting a leading mark of 75-2 ¾ on his second attempt, Henning followed with consecutive throws of 75-4 ¾ on his third attempt and 76-6 ¼ on his fourth attempt to open the final with a commanding edge in the competition. He then posted 75-0 on his fifth throw for his final legal mark of the day, finishing the competition ahead of All-American teammate Michael Lauro (69-7 ½).
With his performance, the Bowerman Award candidate extended his impressive winning streak versus his fellow collegians to nine-straight in the weight throw and 15-straight victories in all competitions between the weight throw indoors and hammer throw outdoors dating back to the start of the 2010 season.
Henning also extended his NCAA lead in the event to nearly six feet after entering the meet with a season best of 72-7 set two weeks ago at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational in New York.
“I am really happy with my consistency today, especially throwing that far over my seasonal best. My last throw was even farther with a sector foul, so I know I have a lot left in the tank,” Henning said. “It’s good that I’m coming around at the right time with the SEC and NCAA Championships right around the corner for our team. We’re really excited about the potential we have these next couple of weeks.”
Before his dominating performance on Friday afternoon, Henning had only appeared in two of the Tigers’ five previous meets on the season while posting victories at both the LSU vs. Texas A&M Dual Meet (72-3 ¾) in College Station and the New Balance Collegiate Invitational (72-7) in New York.
On deck for Henning is a trip to Fayetteville, Ark., next weekend for the 2011 SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships where he will look to defend the title he has won in each of the last two seasons.
Henning actually set the SEC Indoor Championships meet record with his victory as a junior in 2010 after throwing a personal best of 78-1 at the Walker Pavilion at the University of Arkansas.
“We really wanted for me to compete in just the team events during the indoor season this year,” Henning said. “I’m not really concerned with marks or anything like that. My goal this year is to defend my titles and help our team win a championship. I’m focused on doing what I’ve got to do to score points. And this season I’ll really only throw in one less meet indoors than I did last year.”
Following Henning and Lauro in the men’s weight throw competition were senior Ross Roubion (64-6) in third place and freshman Daniel Obioha (54-8) in sixth place with personal-best performances.
While Henning opened the meet by winning the weight throw, junior Marcus McGehee wrapped up all of the action with a win in the men’s pole vault with a lifetime personal-best clearances of 17-5. After breezing through the competition with first-attempt clearances at 16-7 ½ and 17-0 ¼, McGehee went over the bar at 17-5 on his first attempt to secure the event crown before going out with the bar at 17-7.
LSU’s sprinters and hurdlers also used Friday’s LSU Twilight meet as a tune-up for the postseason with a sweep of 60-meter titles and a victory in the final of the women’s 60-meter hurdles.
Junior Horatio Williams cruised to victory in the final of the men’s 60-meter dash while recording a time of 6.64 seconds to outlast Tiger teammate Gabriel Mvumvure (6.80). Sophomore Kimberlyn Duncan (7.37) edged Lady Tiger teammate Kenyanna Wilson (7.38) at the tape to win the women’s 60-meter dash crown. Likewise, senior Tenaya Jones (8.34) beat freshman Jasmin Stowers (8.36) across the finish line to capture the event crown in the women’s 60-meter hurdles.
In the team’s final event on the track, junior Richard Chautin won the men’s 3,000-meter run after posting a converted time of 8 minutes, 27.85 seconds. Following Chautin with personal bests in the event were freshmen Roger Cooke (9:05.49) and Bryan Mutell (9:07.63) and sophomore Cullen Doody (9:12.90).
Also setting a new personal record during Friday’s competition was Tiger junior Earnest Green, who took second-place overall in the men’s long jump with a top mark of 24-1.
“Both of our teams did some good things tonight. We certainly feel like we’ve got a little momentum with the SEC Championships coming up for us next weekend,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “It’s now time for us to give everything we’ve got to try to go to Fayetteville and win a championship. This time of year is what we work toward at LSU. It’s important for our athletes to be prepared and ready to go.”
The Tigers and Lady Tigers will now turn their attention to the championship season as they make the trip to the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark., next weekend to compete in the 2011 SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships scheduled to run from Feb. 25-27.