BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – There are plenty of adjectives to describe high-level competitors – outstanding, incredible, amazing, phenomenal – all of which applied to Natashia Jackson on Monday afternoon in the Southland Conference Indoor Championships.
The senior sprinter won three gold medals en route to the top overall scorer (27.5), her third consecutive at the indoor meet, helping lead the Lady Demons to a runner-up finish with 117.5 total points.
“What more can you say about her,” head coach Mike Heimerman said. “She broke three school records, two meet records and had one of the most incredible splits in the 400 relay I think I’ve ever seen. Not only did she lead our sprinters, but she led the entire women’s team today.”
Jackson set the conference, meet and NSU record in the 400 for the second day in a row with a time of 53.25. She did the same in the 200 running a 23.50, easily taking gold in both events.
In her final event of the day Jackson ran the anchor leg of the 4×400 relay where Janiel Moore, Jayla Fields and Erin Wilson broke the NSU record with a time of 3:41.29. The time was just 0.16 off the SLC record.
While Jackson was putting on a clinic on the track, Lauren Clarke and Jasmyn Steels were having their way on the field.
Clarke, the sophomore jumper, took home gold in both the triple and high jumps. Her third jump of the day went for 42-5.25 giving her the gold by a full foot. She then matcher her career high in the high jump clearing 5-8.75 on her second attempt.
“The electricity we had as a team from our runners was fun,” Heimerman said. “Our jumpers were feeding off of that and Lauren was fantastic today winning the triple and the high jump. It was just an overall great weekend for our jumpers.”
The Lady Demons went one-two in the triple jump as Jasmyn Steels followed her gold in the long jump from Sunday with a silver in the triple behind Clarke.
Along with her gold from the 400 relay, Moore took home the silver in the first race of the day, the 60-meter hurdles, running a career-best 8.51 in a photo finish.
The women’s 60 also came down to the wire where freshman Lynelle Washington taking the bronze with a time of 7.51. Just 0.7 seconds separated the gold medal from fifth place with Jackson just missing another medal at 7.52.
The NSU women finished second for the third straight season and the second straight season behind Stephen F. Austin.
“It was a great day for sure, but I think we left a few points out there,” Heimerman said. “We came in expecting to battle for a title and we did that. Knew it was going to be a dogfight no matter what. That’s why you compete.”
The Lady Demons certainly shined on Monday, but the men had their own fair share of success and results to build on going into the outdoor season.
“We didn’t have as many fireworks today on the men’s side as we did the women,” Heimerman said. “I think we’re more suited for outdoor with them, but they still did well in the relay and we have plenty of things to build on overall.”
Sophomore Marco Arevalo took home the silver in the shot put with a toss of 53-3.5 on his first attempt of the day. His effort was one of just two throws to clear 53 feet on the day along with ACU’s Tyler Richardson who took the gold.
Quindarrius Thompson notched a bronze in the triple jump on his first attempt of the competition. His 50-10.0 leap was his only scored jump of the day but held through the competition giving the Demons another podium finish.
The Demons were shut off the medal stand in their only sprint event, the 60 meters.
In the closest race of the day, NSU finished 4-5-6 with Kie’Ave Harry coming in just off the podium at 6.82, the same time as Brandon Letts. Central Arkansas’ Zachary Jewell took the gold with a time of 6.75 with the bronze time just 0.02 faster than Harry and Letts.
The nation’s top 16 performers travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico on March 13-14 for the NCAA National Championship Meet. Defending long jump champion Jasmyn Steels currently ranks sixth in the county in the event.
NSU opens the 2020 outdoor season at the McNeese Cowboy Relays on March 14.
Photo Credit: Michael Wade