Northwestern State’s stars shined brightly Saturday on one of collegiate track and field’s grandest stages, as Micah Larkins won the 100 meter dash and NCAA Indoor long jump champion Jasmyn Steels broke her own school record in her 2019 outdoor debut at the 92nd Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays.
Larkins, a senior, qualified for the men’s 100 finals Friday, posting the best time in the preliminaries with a wind-aided 10.13 (3.0 mph), Saturday, the two-time relay All-American backed up that performance with a 10.11 (2.9 mph) to capture gold.
The time is the second-fastest mark in the nation this spring and is the fifth-fastest wind-aided mark in school history. It matched Saturday’s winning time in the invitational 100, by Cordero Gray. The wind (over the legal standard of 2.0) kept Larkins from erasing the school record of 10.12 he shares with Justin Walker.
The Haughton product outran Jo’Vaughn Martin of Sam Houston State (second, 10.17), Houston’s Brandon Tyler (10.18), Joseph Sheffield of Oklahoma (10.24) and Chris Jefferson of SHSU (fifth, 10.26).
Larkins’ teammate, junior Kie’Ave Harry, a reigning outdoor All-American along with Larkins in the 4×100 relay, placed sixth in the 100 with a new personal best of 10.32.
Associate head coach and sprints coach Adam Pennington said Larkins’ win culminated a fabulous three-year run by his star.
“The men’s 100 was special,” said Pennington. “Micah placed third as a sophomore, second as a junior and now he finally wins against a stacked field.”
Steels, in her first action since winning the NCAA Indoor title March 8, performed even better on her very first jump of the outdoor season. Her leap of 21-4 ¾ broke her own school record of 21-2 ½ set at the NCAA Championships, and placed her second overall in the competition, tops among collegiate jumpers.
Adidas professional Shakeela Saunders was the overall winner at 21-11. Indoor national runner-up Deborah Acquah of Texas A&M placed fourth with a jump of 20-9 ¼ while Southland indoor champion Sarea Alexander of Incarnate Word finished seventh at 20-8 ½.
Head coach Mike Heimerman said what Steels is doing is amazing.
“Jasmyn started right where she left off from indoors and only got beat by a professional,” said Heimerman. “She is something special.”
Jumps coach Tyron Stewart also sang Steels’ praises.
“She did just as well as I thought she would coming off her rest period,” said Stewart. “We are going to continue to build upon this great performance for the remainder of the season.”
The Demons’ 4×100 relay team of Harry, Larkins, Eddie Clarke and Tre’Darius Carr, invited to run in the men’s invitational final, clocked 40.22 to claim fourth among several top college and professional teams. The group defeated Team International, fifth at 40.50, but Pennington said the foursome is not close to its prime.
“We have to make some adjustments,” said Pennington. “We will continue to grow and eventually it will come together.”
The men’s and women’s 4×200 relay teams also had good showings.
The Lady Demons’ 4×200 team of Kimani Evans, One Giles, Natashia Jackson and Jayla Fields ran 1:36.69 to finish sixth.
The Demons’ 4×200 team of Harry, Javin Arrington, Carr and Evan Nafe placed 11th with a time of 1:26.73.
“We had a great final day, and a great meet overall,” said Heimerman. “Any time a school our size can win two section A events, it’s a great accomplishment. This team has shown that they can compete with anyone, anywhere, at any level.”
Saturday’s fan attendance was 20,957 with a calculated total of 45,753 across the meet’s four-day span.
Saturday at the Bobcat Invitational in nearby San Marcos, Lady Demon vaulters Reagan Darbonne and AnneMarie Broussard finished fifth (12-6) and eighth (12-1) while triple jumpers Ariel Watson placed 19th (38-2) and Lauren Clarke placed 24th (37-9).
The team travels to the SFA Carl Kight Invitational next Saturday before returning home to host the Leon Johnson NSU Invitational on April 13.