JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — With only one attempt remaining in the discus Friday night, LSU’s Rodney Brown was teetering on the brink of disaster.
After two subpar throws in the NCAA East preliminary rounds, Brown, the national leader this spring with a best of 213 feet, 5 inches, was in danger of not making it to the NCAA championships in Eugene, Oregon.
That’s when Brown unleashed the throw that saved his senior season.
With no room for error, he came up with a toss of 201-2 that helped him finish second and nail down one of 12 spots for nationals June 10-13. Virginia’s Jordan Young finished first at 204-3, but Brown remained undefeated for the season because the competition wasn’t a final.
Still, it was a nail-biter.
“My heart definitely stopped two or three times,” Brown said after earning his trip to Eugene. “Going into the last throw, I had already done enough bad stuff. At that point, it was like, ‘I can’t mess it up any more than I have today.’
“So I went in and acted like it was practice,” he said.
The result was a solid throw after he opened with a 152-3 and then had another bad throw that he deliberately fouled on because it, too, wasn’t going to get him into the top 12.
The first throw was more than 60 feet shy of his school record 213-5, which Brown set in winning the Penn Relays title in late April.
“We’ve been doing this for so long. Every guy in this flight can throw 190 feet,” Brown said of the uphill battle he faced heading into his third and final attempt.
“I just had to go back and call on something that would get me back to where I was earlier in the season. I dug deep, and it clicked at the right time.”
Brown said he felt good during warmups and his technique was fine but found himself letting the discus go just a tad early on his first two tries.
When asked what LSU throws coach Derek Yush told him, Brown nervously smiled and said he didn’t need to visit him before his final throw.
“I didn’t even walk over to him. … I didn’t give him a chance,” Brown said. “I just got it in my head that I needed to do this.”
Fortunately, he did.
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter @MicklesAdvocate.