Henning avoids bloodshed, breaks meet WT record


By Christopher Hunt

LSU’s Walter Henning can call the Armory home.  He knows everyone in the building. Even more people know him. Plus he spent endless hours camping out by the throwers’ cage for countless weekends as high schooler at St. Anthony’s on Long Island.

But his last few visits didn’t feel so friendly. Actually, the last time he came to New York for the New Balance Collegiate Invitational, he spent most of the day with a nosebleed.

“I think the last three nosebleeds I remember having were when I was here,” Henning said.

But Henning (photo above by Kim Spir) can now add a more fond memory of his visits to the New Balance Track and Field Center. He set the Armory collegiate facility record while winning the men’s weight throw at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational Saturday with a toss of 76 feet, 7 inches, the top collegiate throw in the country this season. The toss is also a meet record. But most importantly, he never had to stick a tissue in his nose.

“I think I had a little better form on that one,” he said about the throw, not the tissue. “It wasn’t necessarily my best throw but I put all the factors together that I needed to get that throw. We’re very confident that we’ll see more improvements in the next few weeks.”

Henning’s performance earned him the meet’s most outstanding performer award. Brigham Young’s Mindy McClurkin earned the award on the women’s side for more versatile performance. McClurkin won the championship long jump Friday in 21 feet, 1 inch. She finished third in the 200 in 23.80. Then she tracked down Tennessee anchor to help BYU win the 4x200 relay in 1:38.64.

But not many people can show versatility like Curtis Beach. The Duke freshman is known as one of the best young decathletes in the country. But Saturday he anchored the Blue Devils’ 4x800 relay with a 1:47.9 split as Beach, with Sean-Pat Oswald (1:53.3), Stephen Clark (1:52.9) and Chris Rowland (1:52.8) won in 7:26.94.

“He told me yesterday that he was going to run 1:50 and I just looked and him like, ok, just get me a win and I’ll be happy,” Duke coach Norm Ogilvie said. “You can’t put anything pass him. He’s really a beast.”

Last year, as a senior at Albuquerque Academy (N.M.), Beach tossed himself into the Armory lore when he entered the 800 meters at the National Scholastic Indoor Championships and finished fourth overall running from a slow section. This, a day after he posted the second-best scholastic pentathlon score in American history.

“Honestly, I don’t even know where that came from,” Beach said of his anchor leg Saturday. “I surprised myself and I think I surprised a few other people as well.”

Texas A&M’s Jessica Beard won one of the most anticipated races of the meet. She took over in the last 150 to win the 400 meters in 52.60. Francena McCorory of Hampton, who beat Beard for the NCAA indoor title, seemed to be out of the race after a slow start put her in last after the first lap. McCorory somehow found a gear to shallow three runners on the backstretch and begin reeling in Beard. But she had dug too big a hole and finished second in 52.83.

“I think it was probably just a lane difference,” Beard said. “She was in 2 and she was in 5. She probably had to change up her plan a little bit. But she did was she normally does but I think she had a lane disadvantage.”

Her teammate Demitrius Pinder won the men’s 400 in 46.35, holding off a charging freshman Clayton Parros of North Carolina, who finished second in 46.36. Pinder blew by Parros at the start but Parros moved hard down the stretch.

“I wanted to be aggressive but run smart,” Pinder said. “I was comfortable.”

Parros, who ran the junior 600 last year as a star at Seton Hall Prep in New Jersey, said he simply ran out of real estate in trying to catch Pinder. Texas A&M also swept the 200. Curtis Mitchell won the men’s final in 20.99 and Jeneba Tarmoh beat teammate Porscha Lucas, finishing in 23.44. Lucas crossed in 23.51.

New York notes: South Carolina sophomore Nadonnia Rodriques (Boys & Girls) finished fourth in the women’s 400 in 53.79. North Carolina’s Elizabeth Mott (New Rochelle) came fifth in a personal-best 53.97. Kyle Merber of Columbia (Half Hollow Hills West) placed fifth in the championship 3,000 in a personal-best 8:09.01. Tennessee freshman Terrance Livingston (Great Neck South) won the college division 800 meters in 1:52.45. Teammate Brittany Sheffey (Bellport) was fourth in the women’s college 800 in 2:11.92. Dalilah Muhammad of USC (Cardozo) earned third place in the championship 500 in 1:13.89. Villanova’s Maklia Griffith (Hillcrest) was fifth in 1:14.06.

Henning photo by Kim Spir
other photos by wingedfootfotos.com

Reach Christopher Hunt at chunt@armorytrack.com.