Jackson named Southland Athlete of the Year, Runner of the Year; Steels earns Field Events Performer of the Year nod

Natashia Jackson can check off perhaps the one thing missing from her Southland Conference indoor track and field resume – SLC Women’s Athlete of the Year.

Jackson, Northwestern State’s standout senior sprinter, took home that award as well as the SLC Women’s Runner of the Year when the conference announced its indoor track and field superlatives and all-conference teams.

Jackson, a Houston native, repeated as Runner of the Year but earned the Athlete of the Year distinction for the first time, following a third straight year as the high-point scorer at the conference indoor meet as NSU completed a runner-up finish.

“There’s not too many more words for Speedy,” head coach Mike Heimerman said. “I’m glad she finally got this award. It’s much deserved. She did a lot for our program. She’s one of the reasons we scored as high as we did. She’s a very hard-working young lady. The best thing about her is she wants it more than anybody else out there on the track, and she’s going to outwork you. She’s going to beat you to the line.”

Jackson had familiar company on the women’s superlative lists as she was joined by teammate Jasmyn Steels, the Outstanding Field Events Performer.

A DeKaney High School product, Jackson had a dominant indoor season, twice establishing a conference record in the 400 meters before resetting it at the conference meet – one of the two new marks she produced at the March 1-2 competition at the Birmingham CrossPlex.

Steels, the 2019 NCAA Indoor long jump champion who will defend her title March 13-14 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, took home Outstanding Field Events Performer honors for a season in which her best long jump (21-2) was more than a foot and a half ahead of her nearest competitor, teammate LaTyria Jefferson. That mark stands seventh in the nation entering the indoor national championships.

Steels also had the second-longest triple jump (41-5.25) in the conference and ranked seventh in the high jump (5-6.5) in the conference.

“For Jasmyn, this season has definitely been different from last year,” said assistant coach Tyron Stewart, who handles the NSU jump teams. “Not just from a competition standpoint, but from a training standpoint as well. We’ve dealt with a lot weather issues. It’s been tough for her to get mentally checked in, because we haven’t had a chance to get into a rhythm. We’ve worked through it as a whole. We’ve persevered, and she knows what she has to do at the competition. She has a target on her back, and she relishes that.”

The trio of individual awards were part of a standout showing for the Lady Demons on the All-Southland Conference teams.

In addition to her twin superlative awards, Jackson was a first-team all-conference selection in the 200 and 400 meters and was part of NSU’s first-team 4×400 relay squad along with Janiel Moore, Jayla Fields and Erin Wilson.

Steels added a second-team selection in the triple jump, finishing behind teammate Lauren Clarke, who took home all-conference first-team honors in the triple jump and in the high jump, part of NSU’s conference-high-tying six first-team selections on the women’s side.

Moore added a second-team honor in the 60 meter hurdles while AnneMarie Broussard did so in the pole vault. Third-team honorees from Northwestern State were freshman Lynelle Washington in the 60 meters and Kristin McDuffie in the weight throw.

On the men’s side, long jumper Markeit Steverson was a first-team selection while shot putter Marco Arevalo earned second-team honors and triple jumper Quindarrius Thompson was a third-team pick.

Photo Credit: Mike Wade