Five Northwestern State standout competitors have earned spots on the 2018 Southland Conference Track and Field All-Academic Team, headlined by senior sprinter De’Shalyn Jones, voted as the Southland’s Women’s Student-Athlete of the Year.
Head coaches, academic advisors and sports information personnel voted on the team rosters. The conference awards committee selected Jones for the lead honor.
Jones graduated in May with a 3.20 grade point average in psychology and wrapped up an accomplishment-laden career this past week by making her first appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships as part of the Lady Demons’ three-time Southland champion 4×100 meter relay team.
She was one of four Lady Demons selected for the Southland All-Academic squad, joined by senior middle-distance runner Jessica Coleman, senior distance runner Jacqueline Rushford and sophomore horizontal jumper Jasmyn Steels.
Junior triple jumper Ceaser Stephens represented the NSU men on the All-Academic Team.
Jones earned her second consecutive Southland Conference Female Athlete of the Year Award and Runner of the Year honor following the 2018 Southland Outdoor Championships, when she again swept the 100 and 200 meter dashes and ran decisive legs on the winning 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams.
The Tyler, Texas, product became an honorable mention All-America last week when Lady Demons competed at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 4×100 relay, the first time NSU has qualified a women’s relay for the national meet, making her first national meet appearance.
Jones won her last nine Southland event championships with her sweep at UIW, capping her career with 11 Southland golds. She set three school records (100, 200, 4×400) in 2018, raising her total to five that she holds (100, 200, 400, 4×100, 4×400).
She altered the Southland all-time best performances top five lists in 2018 with marks in the 100 (11.37, 3rd all-time in conference history), 200 (23.04, second), the 4×100 (44.74, second) and 4×400 (3:36.31, third, and also a conference meet record).
Coleman, a native of Houma and graduate of H.L. Bourgeois High School, has a 3.31 GPA in biology while specializing in the 800 meters for the Lady Demons. She finished sixth at the Southland Indoor Championships, seventh outdoors, scoring in the 800 at both meets in her senior season. Her indoor points helped the Lady Demons post their best-ever indoor finish, second, and highest-ever indoor point total, 95.
Rushford graduated summa cum laude with a 3.97 GPA in health and exercise science with a concentration in pre-physical therapy. A distance runner, the DeRidder product set a Lady Demon school record, taking sixth in the 3000 steeplechase while breaking the old mark by seven seconds in 11:21.57 on May 5. She scored at the conference meet for the first time with that finish.
Steels, a product of College Station (Texas) Consolidated High School, carries a 3.56 GPA in psychology while standing out as a long and triple jumper. This season, she became an NCAA East Preliminary Round qualifier for the first time in the long jump and scored in both the long jump and triple jump in the Southland Indoor and Outdoor Championships. She took bronze with her last jump of 20-0 ½ to get on the outdoors podium.
Steels gave NSU a pair of fourth places at the indoor meet (LJ, 19-5 1/4; TJ, 39-7 ¾) and added a sixth-place 39-5 ¾ in the triple to her third in the long jump outdoors. Her scoring indoors helped the Lady Demons to their best-ever Southland Indoors finish (second) and point total (95). Steels finished 33rd in the NCAA East Region in the long jump.
Stephens, who has a 3.19 GPA in fine and graphic arts, was an NCAA East Preliminary Round qualifier in the men’s triple jump, who finished 30th in a 48-man field after scoring in both the indoor (third) and outdoor (seventh) Southland Conference championships. The Opelika, Ala., native had a 50-11 ½ indoor best and a 52-0 ½ outdoor personal record.
PHOTO COURTESY OF Northwestern State Athletics