Steels, Lawson take home long jump titles at G5 & Super 22 Invitational

HOUSTON – Consistency has been a hallmark of Natashia Jackson’s and Jasmyn Steels’ Northwestern State track and field careers.

It appears Jeremy Lawson is following that template.

Lawson won his second straight long jump title, taking home the men’s competition at the G5 & Super 22 Invitational at the University of Houston on Friday. Meanwhile, Steels soared to her second victory in as many meets in her signature event, winning the women’s invitational long jump.

A junior transfer from Cocoa, Florida, Lawson clinched the win on his final jump of 23-11.75 to edge FIU’s Queshun Watson-Riggins. Teammate Markeit Steverson gave the Demons a pair of top-five finishers, taking home fifth place with a 23-6.25 effort.

“He’s right there,” head coach Mike Heimerman said of Lawson, who won the long jump at the Texas A&M Ted Nelson Invitational on Jan. 17. “He’s been consistently in that 24-foot range, so we know the big one is coming. He’s been consistent, and consistency is the key.”

While Lawson has emerged in the first half of the indoor season, Jackson turned in what has become a routine performance for her, finishing second in the women’s 400 meters with an indoor PR time of 54.23. Running in her hometown, Jackson turned in a podium finish while running the open 400 for the first time in the 2020 indoor season before clocking a season-best 7.58 in the preliminaries of the women’s 60 meters. Jackson did not run the 200 meter finals in order to concentrate on the 400 meter finals.

“She had her overall PR, and she didn’t run a great race,” Heimerman said. “She was very, very upset afterwards and that was a PR. Looking at her, you would have thought she ran a 56 or a 57. If she hadn’t gotten boxed in, she would have been right there with the girl who ran a 53 to win.”

Of the five jumps Steels’ completed, all but one would have delivered the winning mark. Steels’ fourth attempt was her longest Friday, measuring 21-2 to secure the victory in the six-competitor field. In that group was teammate LaTyria Jefferson, who finished fourth with a 19-9 mark in her first long jump competition of the season.

“Jasmyn wasn’t happy with her performance, and her worst jump nearly would have won the meet,” Heimerman said. “It’s all a work in progress. Our focus with her is nationals. LaTyria went 19-9 in her first competition of the year, and she was upset. It was the best jump of her career besides her jump at regionals her sophomore year (at Kansas). It was a good opener for her. What I appreciate with these kids is they’re having good performances, but they’re not happy. They’re not satisfied. They’re just tenacious.”

Lawson, Jackson and Steverson led a group of six top-10 performances for Northwestern State in one of the most wide-ranging fields the Demons and Lady Demons will see in the indoor season.

Sprinter Brandon Letts worked his way through qualifying and the preliminaries of the men’s 60 meters to grab a sixth-place finish with a time of 6.85. In the preliminary round, Letts notched a personal record time of 6.84 seconds to win his heat and qualify automatically for the finals.

On the women’s side, freshman Lynelle Washington followed a similar script, finishing seventh in the 60 meters with a time of 7.75 in her third race of the day. Washington turned in the fifth-fastest time in the prelims, running a PR time of 7.54.

“Lynelle is probably the fastest freshman we’ve had,” Heimerman said. “She was running neck-and-neck with the girl who finished third, but (Washington) had a cramp in her hamstring. She ended up hobbling the last 20 meters and still ran a 7.75. Brandon had a really consistent day in the 60. We’re getting there, but we’re not quite there. Our whole goal is conference in a month. The big takeaway is no one is satisfied and everyone wants more. You like to see that as a coach, the eagerness and willingness to want more and to not be satisfied.”

Slavoski Wright continued his strong indoor season with a 10th-place finish in the men’s 800, running a 1:56.42. That performance followed a third-place finish at the Ted Nelson Invitational on Jan. 17.

Delivering PR performances for Northwestern State were Yannik Gerland in the men’s 1 mile (4:24.07), Payten Vidourek in the men’s 1 mile (4:31.31), Andrew Worthy in the men’s 60 meter hurdles (9.01), Dejon Blake in the men’s 400 (49.49), and Deja Moore in the women’s 60 (7.77).

The final day of the meet begins at 12:30 p.m. Saturday with the women’s high jump. Running events begin at 2:15 p.m.

Photo Credit: Jameria Smith/NSU Athletics