BATON ROUGE — Perhaps there are no events in the sport of track and field that require a combination of speed and strength quite like the throws, and that is certainly evident with the fall training regimen for the LSU throws group as it prepares for another outstanding season this spring.
While the approach to fall training is similar across all event areas, the throws group is unique as assistant coach Derek Yush trains athletes to compete in four different events.
With the indoor season just over two months away, athletes competing in the shot put and weight throw have spent much of their time this fall refining their technique in addition to building absolute strength in weekly Olympic lifting in the weight room. Yush leads his athletes through cleans and snatches two days each week with an additional two days each week spent performing squat movements.
Building absolute strength is an important part of the fall training program as an athlete must have control over his or her own body while moving around the ring.
LSU has an advantage over other programs in that the climate in Baton Rouge allows its athletes to throw and train outdoors into the winter months while preparing for the indoor season. LSU’s athletes in the shot put, weight throw and hammer throw are throwing outdoors up to five days each week.
While LSU’s discus and javelin specialists do not compete until the beginning of the outdoor campaign in March, they are hard at work building strength, speed, coordination and technique through longer training cycles. It includes the building of elastic strength using hurdles and weights, as well as explosive sprints up the concourse ramp of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center located adjacent to the outdoor track.
These particular workouts are designed to build the speed and explosion an athlete will need to perform at their maximum level when the outdoor season begins in March.
The LSU throws group is an experienced unit that features 10 returning letterwinners led by junior Walter Henning, a two-time All-American in 2009 who was the NCAA runner-up in the hammer at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark.
Henning, who recorded a new personal best of 235 feet, 11 inches in the hammer during the 2009 season, has already proven to be one of the most prolific throwers in program history as he also took fourth place in the weight throw at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Sophomore Aaron Moore leads a quartet of talented javelin throwers after competing in the NCAA meet a year ago, while fellow sophomore Anthony Martel earned All-SEC honors with a runner-up finish at the SEC meet. Junior Mark DeBlanc and sophomore Ryan Roubion also competed in NCAA Regional competition.
“Walter is just an intense competitor and you know what you are going to get from him each time he steps into the ring,” Yush said. “But I am excited about the potential of the men’s team this season. We’re more experienced this year with a number of guys who have competed in the championship meets. I have been especially impressed with Max Lauro and his development in the weight and hammer.
“Max is a man with a mission this season. He got a taste of success after scoring at both SEC meets a year ago, and I’m looking for him to take the next step and be an NCAA scorer for us this spring.”
The Lady Tigers are also looking to make an impact on a national level this season. Senior Kim Williams and sophomore Brieanna Kennedy return to lead the squad, while Junior College transfer Samia Stokes is set to join the team following brilliant career at Mesa Community College where she was an All-America performer in the weight throw and discus last season.
“The women have to really step it up this year. We certainly left a lot in the tank last season, and we need to perform in order for the women to be in the national championship picture this year. Kim Williams and Brieanna Kennedy will be our leaders this spring, and I know that they are hungry to compete after a disappointing end to last season. They certainly have the potential to be NCAA scorers for us this season.
“We’re also excited about the addition of Samia Stokes to our team. She has All-America credentials and we expect nothing less of her this season. We’re anxious to get out there and compete.”