Demons and Lady Demons add depth to the jumps department

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As the Northwestern State track and field program has built its 2018 recruiting class, jumps coach Tyron Stewart is adding four competitors to the rosters, with Buckeye High School’s Marlee Paulk among three joining the Lady Demons’ squad.

Paulk is one of two high jumpers joining the NSU women’s team, along with Lauren Clark, a Houston native who is also a top-caliber triple jumper. The other Lady Demon addition is Monique Walker, a Texarkana, Texas, resident who is a horizontal jumper.

Savannah State transfer Laron James will bolster the Demons’ horizontal jump corps as a senior next spring.

The newcomers add to an already strong event group that included NCAA East Preliminary Round qualifiers Ceaser Stephens, Quindarrius Thompson, Jacorius Jeter and Lady Demon Jasmyn Steels. Theyu were among a school-record 20 NCAA East qualifiers representing NSU.

“I am very excited about my jumpers,” said Stewart. “Most are entering their third season with me, so they know what I expect out of them in competition and training. I have four regional qualifiers coming back so the next step is getting them to the NCAA national meet, and for the ones who didn’t make the regional meet last season, their goal is to make it there this season.

“From what they have been telling me all summer, they are ready to put this work in and make some big things happen this season. I expect some great performances out of my group and they do as well,” said Stewart.

James, the lone male jumps newcomer, is a native of Bucholz, Florida, with personal bests of 24-8 ½ in the long jump and 48-0 ½ in the triple jump. Stewart believes the senior transfer can find a spot on the podium at the Southland Conference championships and contend for national meet qualification when the NCAA Outdoors are staged next June in Austin, Texas.

“My expectations for Laron are to be a top three finisher at conference for both indoor and outdoor, make it to the NCAA regional qualifying meet and earn a spot to compete in Austin at the national meet,” he said.

Clarke, a product of Fort Bend-Travis High School, brings impressive credentials to the Lady Demons. The 5-9 incoming freshman has personal bests of 40-0 in the triple jump and 5-8 in the high jump.

“Lauren is a very talented young lady who is fairly new to the track and field world,” said Stewart. “Once she understands the art of the jumps and develops her skills, I expect Lauren to be a force in the Southland Conference for years to come. I believe she has the potential to become one of the top jumpers in the NCAA.”

Walker, the Texarkana native, prepped at Pleasant Grove (Texas) High School where she also played basketball. Her personal records are 38-9 in the triple jump and 18-9 in the long jump.

“Monique has everything it takes to become one of the top jumpers in the Southland Conference and a contender to make the national championships,” said Stewart. “She is a natural athlete and loves the horizontal jumps. With her natural athleticism and her love for the sport, the sky is the limit.”

Paulk had a personal best 5-7 clearance in the high jump.

“Marlee comes into NSU as one of the top high jumpers in the state of Louisiana and I have high expectations for her freshman campaign,” said Stewart. “Marlee will be a key contributor for us at the conference championships.”

The four jumps signees join 14 sprinters and eight distance competitors among NSU’s 2018 track and field recruiting class, with throws newcomers to be announced Friday.