As the Northwestern State women’s track and field team aims to capture Southland Conference championships, the Lady Demons signed a crop of already proven champions at their respective levels in the 2019 signing class.
Four of NSU’s 10 signees won state or national championships or earned All-American status at their respective levels.
The Lady Demons inked a pair of collegiate All-Americans, a junior college national champion and a high school state champion in a star-studded class. Another high school signee won a silver medal in her event.
Kansas transfer LaTyria Jefferson earned Second-Team All-America honors at the NCAA Outdoor Championships with a 12th-place finish in the high jump in 2018. Jefferson earned honorable mention All-American status twice, once in the high jump in 2017 (18th-place) and once in the long jump (2018).
The Texas native placed second in the Big 12 Championships in the high jump with a career best 6-foot clearance and a personal record 20-5.25 in the long jump, both of which rank in the top 10 in Jayhawk history.
“LaTyria is already a three-time All-American, and we’re excited to have somebody like her finish up her final collegiate season here,” said NSU jumps coach Tyron Stewart. “We are expecting fireworks from this young lady.”
Stewart also recruited for the jumps future with the addition of Glenquioa Hardy, who took long jump silver in Texas Class 5A at Mesquite High.
“Glenquioa is a raw talent out of the Dallas area, and I’m expecting her to perform very well here,” Stewart said of Hardy, who jumped 19-2.75 in high school.
Three of four NSU sprinter signees bring top credentials to Natchitoches.
Texas Tech transfer Robyn Byrd captured All-American honorable mention honors after running a leg on the 4×100 relay that placed 18th at the NCAA championships.
“Robyn had a very successful junior college career before that, and on paper, she might be the best short sprinter we’ve signed here,” said NSU sprints coach Adam Pennington, who was promoted to associate head coach this past season. “She has a lot of range, and she has a shot to come in right away and contest some school records.
Janiel Moore is the reigning junior college national champion in the 400 hurdles out of South Plains Community College. Moore’s personal best is 59.68.
“Janiel comes in from one of the most successful junior college programs and is an extremely hard worker,” Pennington said. “I think she’ll run much faster over the next two years, and she fills a gap we needed this year.”
Another transfer Erin Wilson (UTSA) will add quality depth in the 400 meters.
One of the fastest Louisiana sprinters Lynell Washington joins the squad after winning the Class 5A title in the 100 meters for Landry Walker High.
“Erin has huge upside, and I’m extremely excited to watch her come in and battle with our ladies and in the conference,” Pennington said. “Lynell is a very untapped short sprinter with a lot of upside as well.
“She reminds me a lot of current sprinter Natashia Jackson, and that’s saying a lot.”
The Lady Demons added a pair of high school throwers from Texas in Brianna Washington and Delores Okeke.
Washington, out of DeSoto, Texas, has personal marks of 45-8.5 in the shot put and 148-5 in the discus.
Okeke, an Elsik High product from Houston, has marks of 41-6 in shot put and 136-3 in discus.
“Both of these ladies are going to be fun to watch, and I’m looking forward to training the entire fall with them,” said NSU head coach Mike Heimerman, who coaches throws. “We’ll see how much progress we can make in technique and strength.”
Two distance/cross country signees have already started their freshman seasons.
Olivia Slayter (Colfax, La.) and Olivia Sipes (White Oak, Texas) inked with the Lady Demons.
Slayter is a four-time all-state cross country participant from Grace Christian.
Sipes can also handle middle sprints and is a threat to score in the 800 meters with a personal best of 2:16.
“(Slayter) has a promising future, and she will be a top freshman for us this year,” said new NSU cross country coach De’Shalyn Jones. “She hasn’t scratched the surface of her potential yet.
“(Sipes) has a lot of upside and went undefeated until the state meet in Texas. I’m looking forward to getting her on the track and seeing if she can score some points in the 800 right away.”