COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Northwestern State track and field teams ring in the new year with the start of the indoor season inside Gilliam Indoor Stadium on the campus of Texas A&M University on Friday with the women’s high jump finals kicking off the competition at noon.
In addition to the hosting Aggies, the Demons and Lady Demons will see conference foes Houston Baptist, Incarnate Word, Lamar, McNeese, Sam Houston State, and Texas A&M Corpus Christi along with UL Lafayette, UL Monroe, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico Junior College, Prairie View A&M, Texas A&M-Kingsville, Texas Southern, Texas-Rio Grande Valley, and West Texas College.
It was only seven months ago that nine athletes concluded the outdoor season proudly in Eugene, Oregon after representing NSU at the NCAA track and field national championship meet with the Demons claiming seventh place in the 4×100 meter relay finals. All four men (Kie’Ave Harry, Micah Larkins, Amir James, and Tre’Darius Carr) were named All-American for their performance. The Demons return three of those runners for this season, losing James to graduation.
The Lady Demons also ended 2018 at nationals but unfortunately, none of them qualified for the finals. The 4×100 team of Deshon Gordon, Deja Moore, Natashia Jackson, and De’Shalyn Jones placed 22nd on day one of preliminaries with the team being named Honorable Mention All-American. Moore and Jackson are back for 2019 competition.
With all the success of last year, seventh-year head coach Mike Heimerman is eager to get the season underway.
“We have been back for a little over a week from Christmas break and we are pretty optimistic. Some of the kids have been home three to four weeks so it’s really early for us getting back into competition,” said Heimerman. “It will be nice to see just how they trained over break. We’re going to go get our feet wet at Texas A&M and it will be a good first meet. It will be a good starting point and we will build and learn from there.”
Even with it only being the start of the indoor season, coach Heimerman expects his teams to be in a similar spot come summer even after losing some athletes to graduation.
“We graduated four kids out of the nine who were at the national meet, so we return five and are in a good position. We had a great recruiting class including a few transfers so it’s going to be exciting,” said Heimerman. “When you have that many kids make nationals, they come back, they talk about their travels out west for the week and the other kids want to be a part of that. They want to go on those trips and the attitude gets a little infectious. More people want to be a part of it.”
Heimerman was clearly excited in an interview Wednesday when discussing his 2019 teams and what he thinks they can achieve this year.
“I expect nearly everyone to contribute. Sprinters look great, the jumpers look phenomenal, distance runners have done well, and the throwers have done a pretty good job,” he said. “I’m expecting big things out of everybody, and I know some of them are expecting big things from themselves. We actually have more talent on the teams this year than we did last year. I know that’s kind of crazy to say but, that’s why I smile knowing it’s going to be a fun year. It’s early to say but I think it’ll be another historic year.”
The Demons finished third at the 2018 Southland Conference Indoor Championships while the Lady Demons took second, their best-ever showing at the conference indoors. Jackson, Moore, and Courtney Willis all return as reigning SLC indoor champions in the 4×100 relay in addition to Jackson’s individual crown in the 400.
Following the TAMU Invitational, the teams head to Norman, Oklahoma on Jan. 19 for the Oklahoma Sooner Invitational. The Southland Championships are Feb. 24-25 in Birmingham, Ala., with outdoor competition beginning March 9.
NSU hosts two outdoor meets this spring, the Leon Johnson NSU Invitational on April 13 and the Southland Outdoor Championships May 3-5 at the Walter P. Ledet Track Complex.