NSU athletes tally 35 personal bests at Leon Johnson NSU Invitational

The Northwestern State track and field program got an astonishing 35 personal best performances from its athletes Friday at the Walter P. Ledet Track Complex during the Leon Johnson NSU Invitational, including 12 wins and two school records.

Kelsey Frank (women’s javelin, 163-5), Yannik Gerland (5000 meters, 9:46.58), Isabella Hudson (women’s 1500, 4:57.67), Tremayne Flagler (110 hurdles, 13.98) and Cody Robinson (5000, 16:20.66) all set personal records while winning their events.

There was also a plethora of NSU athletes, despite not claiming gold, who set a new standard for themselves Friday.

The sprinters had the biggest number of PR’s: Courtney Willis (third in the women’s 400, 55.99), Evan Nafe (fourth in the 100, 10.69), Kimani Evans (fifth in the women’s 200, 24.88), Brad Alexander (sixth in the 400, 49.32), Aliyah Carswell (seventh in the 100 hurdles, 15.15), Kavacion Webster (eighth in the 100, 10.78), Terrance Johnson (10th in the 100, 10.92), Eddie Clarke (12th in the 200, 22.18), Nadia Carney (13th in the women’s 100, 12.76), Taylor Finney (13th in the women’s 100, 12.76), Tahner Raphael (15th in the 400, 53.28), Daveon Rodgers (15th in the 200, 22.26), Tremayne Flagler (17th in the 200, 22.31), Webster (19th in the 200, 22.61) and Coby McGee (26th in the 100, 11.30).

Associate head coach and sprints coach Adam Pennington said he viewed that haul as a great improvement for the season.

“It was a good day and I think we finally clicked on some things that we’ve been working at,” said Pennington. “It was great to see so many improvements.”

The distance group added another seven PR’s outside its three wins Friday including Alex Melcer (third in the 5000, 16:44.84), Jade Talazac (fifth in the 1500, 5:20.55) Kirstin Elrod (seventh in the women’s 800, 2:26.79), Atianna Parks (eighth in the women’s 800, 2:26.80), Andrew Robinson (ninth in the 800, 2:03.70), Emily Blanchard (ninth in the women’s 1500, 5:33.88) and Blake Cantrell (16th in the 800, 2:11.75).

Distance coach Chris Sauer was happy with his athletes.

“We’re making good progress,” said Sauer. “A lot of them took good steps towards improving. It’s just good to be back at home to get some races in, and I think the future looks good.”

The long jumpers saw another three PR’s emerge with Lady Demon long jumpers Brooke Petkovich (18-11 ¼) and Ariel Watson (17-9 ½) claiming third and ninth, respectively, and Keidrick Haynes placing fourth (24-1 ½) for NSU.

“The jumpers came out and did pretty good today,” said jumps coach Tyron Stewart. “They put on a show for the home crowd with three lifetime bests, so I’m certainly happy about that. We’ve just got to keep it rolling for the LSU meet and conference.”

Alongside Frank’s javelin victory with the third-best mark in school history, 163-5, a PR by over seven feet, the throwers added another four bests. Marco Arevalo placed second in the shot put at 53-9 ¾, Amber Bruce third in the women’s javelin at 141-1, William Malone third in the hammer throw at 149-0 and Kristin McDuffie was seventh in the women’s hammer at 136-6.

Head coach Mike Heimerman, who oversees the throwers, was very pleased with his team as a whole.

“We had a lot of great performances today,” said Heimerman after the meet. “The kids always like competing where they practice everyday and love protecting their home turf. It’s always good to get an actual meet in at the place where (the upcoming) Southland Conference meet is held. Practicing out here is one thing, but meet pace is always a little different.”

NSU heads to the LSU Alumni Gold meet next Saturday before returning home to host the 2019 Southland Conference Championships on May 3-5.

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