Chris Little, Northwestern State Sports Information
NATCHITOCHES – The Northwestern State track and field teams produced two champions and 10 athletes who scored team points, led by an explosive showing from the jump squad, on a rainy first day of the 2019 Southland Conference Outdoor Championships at the Walter P. Ledet Track Complex.
The Demons’ long jump athletes accounted for all 24 team points that have them sitting in first place after day one, slightly ahead of second-place Sam Houston State’s 23. The Lady Demons are in a tie for second with Abilene Christian at 38, on the heels of Stephen F. Austin’s 40.
Senior JaCorious Jeter, a former Haughton star and the nation’s No. 23 ranked long jumper, led the way with his first conference title on a leap of 24-9 ¾ feet, securing 10 team points.
Right behind was Markeit Steverson Jr., who placed second with a personal-record 24-9 to add another eight points.
Keldrick Haynes (fourth, 23-10 ¼) and Deylon Key (eighth, 23-1 ¼) gave the Demons six more points.
Senior Kelsey Frank claimed her second Southland javelin crown with a throw of 156-3. Her throw was nearly six feet further than Annina Brandenburg of Abilene Christian.
She won the conference title for a second straight time, getting her first gold at the 2017 Southland Outdoors before redshirting in 2018.
The Lady Demons collected 16 points in that event when sophomore Amber Bruce posted a personal best 146-1 to nab third place.
“We had a great day and I’m super proud of these competitors,” said head track and field coach Mike Heimerman. “Just a wonderful opening day for our conference, and hopefully it leads to big things tomorrow.”
The spotlight event Friday was the women’s long jump battled between Lady Demon junior Jasmyn Steels and Incarnate Word senior Sarea Alexander.
The pair rank fourth (Steels) and second (Alexander) outdoors in the NCAA and have a competitive history that spiked to the highest level in this year’s indoor and outdoor seasons. Alexander won the conference indoor title this past February before Steels won the NCAA Indoor championship two weeks later.
Friday, as rain arrived, Alexander again prevented Steels from capturing her first Southland title, posting a winning jump of 21-4 ¼ on her first attempt. Steels, a junior from College Station, Texas, jumped 21-0 ½ to claim silver. Alexander claimed her third straight Southland long jump crown.
“Jasmyn really wanted to win, and avenge her only loss indoors,” said Heimerman. “She finished second to a phenomenal competitor. That’s got to be the first time in conference history where someone jumps over 21 feet and gets second.”
The Lady Demons’ pole vaulting duo of Regan Darbonne and Annemarie Broussard had some tough competition, facing three of the nation’s top 25, all from Stephen F. Austin. NSU’s young standouts still fared well, scoring nine points with Darbonne clearing 13-2 ¼ for fourth and Broussard taking fifth at 12-6 ¼.
Jayla Fields leaped a new personal best in the long jump at 19-2 ½, just missing a medal and adding five points for the Lady Demons.
Although he didn’t score, Will Malone hit a personal record in the hammer throw with a heave of 154-11, finishing 13th.
Team standings after day one:
1) Northwestern St. 24, 2) Sam Houston St. 23, 3) New Orleans 18, 4) Lamar 12, 5) Central Arkansas 10, 6) Abilene Christian 8, 7) Stephen F. Austin 6, 8) McNeese 5, 9) Incarnate Word 4, 9) Southeastern La. 4, 11) Texas A&M-CC 3
1) Stephen F. Austin 40, 2) Abilene Christian 38, 2) Northwestern St. 38, 4) McNeese 17, 5) Incarnate Word 14, 6) Texas A&M-CC 12, 7) Sam Houston St. 11, 8) Southeastern La. 8, 9) Lamar 6, 9) Nicholls 6, 11) Central Arkansas 2, 11) New Orleans 2, 13) Houston Baptist 1