Frank and Darbonne break school records, Larkins improves national standing at LSU Alumni Gold

The Northwestern State track and field teams closed the regular season schedule on a very high note Saturday with Kelsey Frank breaking a 20-year-old school record in the javelin and Reagan Darbonne raising her own school record, as NSU claimed three gold medals and eight podium finishes at the LSU Alumni Gold meet in Bernie Moore Track Stadium in Baton Rouge.

Frank, a senior, won the javelin with a heave of 168-5, erasing the 166-9 school record held by All-American Regina Roe since 1999. The Oberlin native, who had pushed her personal best to 163-5 last Friday at the Leon Johnson NSU Invitational, moved into the nation’s top 20 this season as she threw nearly 14 feet past the second-place finisher Saturday, Florida’s Megan Reed.

Senior two-time All-American sprinter Micah Larkins also impressed with a win in the section A 100 meter dash finals, tying the nation’s fourth-best time of 10.10 (with a 2.8 mph wind). The Haughton High School product beat out six professional runners in his victory, clocking the second-fastest time of his career behind a wind-aided 10.02 last year at the Texas Relays. It’s the fifth-fastest 100 ever by a Demon, with the wind (over 2.0 mph) denying him the chance to lower the school record of 10.12 he shares with Justin Walker.

Sophomore Markeit Steverson Jr. claimed his first gold of the outdoor season in the men’s long jump with a leap of 23-11.

Darbonne, a sophomore, raised the Lady Demon pole vault standard in consecutive weeks. The Hackberry native broke the school record at the Leon Johnson NSU Invitational with a height of 13-2 ½ before besting that at 13-3 ½ to claim second Saturday.

Head track and field coach and throws coach Mike Heimerman, who coaches NSU’s throwers, was especially pleased with his javelin star, redshirted last year after winning the 2017 Southland Conference title.

“Kelsey threw great. Anytime you can break a record that’s that old, it’s an awesome feeling,” said Heimerman. “I think she can still improve her distance even more.”

Junior Natashia Jackson picked up a silver in the women’s section B 200 with a time of 23.94 (4.2 mph) in a field of 38 competitors, falling just short of Texas A&M Commerce’s Eboni Coby (23.78, 2.7 mph).

German transfer Yannik Gerland improved from this past weekend’s performance with a third-place finish in the men’s 3000 steeplechase, setting a personal-best 9:26.39.

Freshman Slavoski Wright also picked up a bronze in the 800 with a career-best 1:52.78 among 30 competitors.

NCAA Indoor long jump champion Jasmyn Steels was in action in the women’s invitational division where she finished third overall and second among college athletes with a jump of 20-8 ½. Kenyattia Hackworth (unattached) was first overall at 21-8 while Yanis David (Florida) took second at 21-0.

Junior Brooke Petkovich took fourth in two events. In the morning, the Kenner native jumped 18-5 in the long jump before producing a 38-10 ½ in the triple jump later in the afternoon.

“It was a great meet overall. Micah and Speedy (Jackson) led the way, our jumpers always do good too,” said Heimerman. “Today shows that we can compete with the best in the SEC, ACC, and so on. Our kids are ready for conference and we’re excited to put on a good show.”

NSU takes a week off before hosting the 2019 Southland Conference Outdoor Championships May 3-5 at the Walter P. Ledet Track Complex.