The Northwestern State track and field program completed its recruiting class with eight distance runners added for the 2018-19 season.
Each gender will add four athletes each to their rosters.
With the departure of the highly decorated Joshua Wilkins this past spring, the men’s distance runners will be relatively inexperienced entering the 2018 season. The women enter a similar situation after graduating five distance runners from a year ago.
Among the men’s incoming recruits are Yannik Gerland, a transfer from the University of Mount Olive who will compete in the 3000 meter steeplechase. The German sophomore brings a wide range to the team with a 9:19.59 personal best in the 3000 steeplechase, a 1:54.85 in the 800, a 4:00.13 in the 1500 and a 15:26 in the 5000.
Keanna Osby of Shelbyville (Texas) High School, is expected to make an impact on the women’s side competing in the 400 and 800. She was described by distance coach Chris Sauer as one of the most talented girls he has ever recruited. Osby went undefeated in the 400 and 800 in her senior year of high school.
Thomas Daigle is also expected to boost talent on the men’s team, having finished second in the steeplechase at AAU club nationals in both 2016 and 2017. The Donaldsville High School product has posted personal bests at 6:36.60 in the 2000 steeplechase and 1:54.85 in the 800.
Rounding out the men’s distance class is Slavoski “Shun” Wright of Arlington, Texas and Clay Casner of Mansfield, Texas. Wright who prepped at Mansfield-Timberview High School, will compete in the 400 and 800, where he improved by seven seconds in his senior year. Casner, a Mansfield-Lake Ridge product, should help boost the steeplechase core, finishing second in the event at an AAU regional this summer.
The women are hoping the remaining three distance signees to have breakout freshmen years.
Kirstin Elrod of West Monroe only began running in her junior year of high school but has since dropped 18 seconds off her 1600 run. Emily Blanchard of from Hahnville High School traditionally competes in the 1600 but is looking to add the steeplechase to her repertoire.
Sauer said that he believes that Blanchard is even capable of breaking the school record given a few years in the event. Capping off the women’s class is Jade Talazac. The Belle Chasse product will compete in the 3200 and managed to shave an entire minute off her time last year in high school.