Offensive lineman David Ballard, a preseason all-conference selection, won the fourth annual McNeese State football bench-a-thon on Thursday.
Ballard, a native of Lake Charles who has already earned his degree and will compete as a graduate this coming season, benched 415 pounds to take the top ranking. 
It was the third time Ballard has won the title. A year ago, linebacker David Turnage prevented him from making it three in a row.
He claimed his third title while competing against offensive and defensive linemen.
Other top performers during Thursday’s event, which was held on campus in McNeese’s Memorial Gymnasium, were LaDarius Key in the skill division and Drew Johnston in the athlete division.
Bart Crader, a native of Friendswood, Texas, set a bench press record for Cowboy quarterbacks by benching 325 pounds.
Key, who is a cornerback from Monroe, went 355 pounds to win the skill division and Johnston, a fullback from Newton, Texas, benched 405 pounds.
The overall performance by the Cowboys during the event was the best in its
four-year history.
McNeese strength and conditioning coach Zeb Hawkins said he has been pleased with the overall performance of the Cowboys during the offseason programs.
“I think that physically we’re going to be in the best shape that we have been,” he said following the bench-a-thon. “We have gained a lot of speed.  We’ve have also had 14 records broken during the offseason.”
He also said the dedication of the players had a lot to do with the advancement they have made in physical strength.
 “We have great support from coach Viator [head football coach Matt] and Tommy [athletic director McClelland] for our program,” Hawkins said.
He also noted almost every player on the team was on hand for the summer program.
Undefeated in the regular season a year ago, the Cowboys will report on August 1 and hold their first workout on August 2. 
They kick off their season August 30 on the road against North Carolina.