Out on her own

BY MARIE BAKKEN Reporter Staff Writer

Even from a young age, DeAnn Washington had a love for track and field. Through hard work in high school at Milano and now at

McNeese State in Lake Charles she is on her way to competing at a much higher level on and off the track.

"I have always wanted to participate in track, every since I was a little girl and saw the Olympics on TV," Washington said. "I love track because while it is a team sport, it has it's element of independence. It's all about what you bring to the competition; you rely on yourself to get the job done."

Washington is getting the job done at McNeese on the field and in the classroom, being the only Cowgirl track team member to qualify for regionals in the 2009 outdoor season and also named to the Southland Conference All-Academic team.

The senior nursing major is due to graduate in May 2010 and would be the track team's top returnee, if she still decides to compete.

"This will be my fourth year of competition and you have five years to complete your eligibility, so I might not compete for a year (redshirt) and finish up the following year," she said. "I will graduate in May with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing and in August 2010 I will start on my master's degree for Family/Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner."

While finding herself in the halls of Milano High School, Washington was the quiet type. But when she would compete, her personality shined.

She won the Class A girls state discus title in 2006 and was invited to compete in the Golden West Invitational in Folsom, California that same year, finishing 12th. Before the meet in California, Washington had won the discus event in every meet she had participated in her senior year. She was also fourth at state in the shot put.

Washington also set school records in the discus and shot put and was district champion three times in the discus.

At MHS, Washington credits her direction and improvement of skills to long time Milano coaches David Westbrook and Wendy King and former coach Brad Aduddell.

"He (Westbrook) helped me to develop a strong base to succeed and become a good athlete. He and Mrs. King are great coaches and I thank them for everything they have done for me," she said. "Coach Aduddell is the one who motivated me and helped me find a love for the sport."

D'Ann Washington was a triple threat for the Lady Cowboys, competing in the shot put, discus and hammer throw (left), which was a brand new event for the girl from the Class A school.
That love of track has taken Washington from Central Texas to southern Louisiana and to the big stage of collegiate sports.

She has continued to improve and this year hit personal best in the shot put and discus at both indoor and outdoor meets.

At the Indoor Southland Conference Meet at Houston, Washington was seventh in the weight throw (47-9) and completed a personal best 45-5 3 .4 for a third place finish in the shot.

Spring brought the outdoor season and great performances by Washington. Her personal best in the shot put grew to 46-2 1 .2, and she qualified for regionals in the discus with a throw of 159-1, another personal best.

She also competed in the weight throw and hammer during early 2009, posting career best in both (48-3.5 in weight throw and 158-9 in hammer).

During the Southland Conference outdoor meet, Washington scored 18 of her Cowgirls team's 44 points, helping them finish sixth, up from ninth in 2008.

At the conference meet held at Stephen F. Austin, she placed fifth in the hammer, third in the shot and second in the discus. Washington's throw of 156-11 held her in first place until the person she had surpassed for the lead's final throw.

Having already qualified for the Mideast Regional, the Milano native still felt satisfied.

Heading into the regional meet at Louisville, Washington was ranked 25th. After some technique issues, she finished 26th with a throw of 140-9.

"I wasn't nervous or anything, the environment and ring were great," she said. "I feel like I gave it my all, but I had difficulties with my technique." That will just be something her head coach Brendon Gilroy and throw coach Erik Whitsitt at McNeese will have to work on with Washington.

It is obvious that she has come out of her shell and found real focus in her life and in her sport.

"I've learned to believe in myself and that if I want something I have to work hard and go after it because it's not going to just be handed to me, and other people are working hard for it also," Washington said. "On this journey, I've learned that it's not always an easy or pleasant road, things get hard, confusing, and complicated, but if you work hard, stay focused, motivated and dedicated, and don't give up it will pay off."

For her accomplishments in the spring, Washington was named to the 2009 All Southland Conference Team, McNeese State University's 2009 Women's Track and Field MVP, McNeese State University's 2009 Outstanding Field Performer and was named Lake Charles News Channel 7 Billy Navarre Sports Person of the Week.

For her to compete, whether next year or the season after, Washington knows what it will take to get to the next level.

"I learned you have to be willing to work hard, stay determined and optimistic," she said. "I've also learned to start believing in myself, more, setting my goals high and going after them. But mainly hard work, dedication and prayer get the job done."

Washington's parents, Carol and Caster, still live in Milano, as does her younger brother C.J., so her heading back to Texas isn't totally out of the picture.

"I'm sure I will (come back to Milano), I just don't know when; it all depends on where nursing and track take me. Milano will always be home to me," she said.



2008 • Named to 2008 Southland Conference Capital One Women's Outdoor Track and Field All-Academic Team. • Best of 148-8 in discus and 42- 02 in the shot.

2009 Indoor • Won shot put at LSU Purple Tiger Relays with personal best of 44-0 1/2. • Weight throw personal best was 48-03.5 at McNeese Indoor Meet • At Indoor Southland Conference Meet at Houston, placed 7th in weight throw (47-9) and placed 3rd in shot put with a new personal best of 45-5 3/4.

2009 Outdoor • Competed at Baylor, placed 3rd in hammer with new personal best of 153-08; 4th in hammer with season best of 147-11, and 6th in shot put (43-08.75). • At Northwestern State Meet, finished 3rd in shot put; 3rd in discus with a new career best of 154-8, I needed 3 inches to qualify for the Regional meet (155-1=qualifying); also finished 4th in hammer with a career best of 158-9. • At Louisana Lafayette, threw only discus to try to qualify for regionals, and ended up throwing 159-1 to qualify for the Mid-East Regional Meet. • Southland Conference Outdoor Championships at Stephen F. Austin, placed 5th in hammer with throw of 148-5. In shot put, placed 3rd with a career best of 46-2 1/2. Placed 2nd in discus with 156-11. Moved into first place on first throw of the finals and maintained it until the leader's last throw). • Regional Meet in Louisville, went in ranked 25, ended up finishing 26th with a throw of 140-9. • Named to the 2009 All Southland Conference Team. • McNeese State University's 2009 Women's Track and Field MVP. • McNeese State University's 2009 Outstanding Field Performer • Named Lake Charles News Channel 7 Billy Navarre Sports Person of the Week.

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