Northwestern State’s Gumbs punches NCAA ticket, two sprinters advance to finals

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – At least one Northwestern State athlete will be competing on the national stage.

Djimon Gumbs launched the shot-put 63-0.75 on his final throw at the NCAA East Preliminaries at Indiana University on Wednesday, finishing eighth and securing a spot in next month’s NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore.

Gumbs’ mark is second-best in NSU history, passing none other than coach Mike Heimerman.

Heimerman said he challenged Gumbs on his final attempt, betting him that he couldn’t throw a personal record.

“(Gumbs) is one of those guys that if you challenge him mentally, 80-90 percent of the time, he’ll beat that challenge,” Heimerman said. “When I challenged him, he laughed and said, ‘Ok.’

“He’s been battling injuries all outdoor season, but he mentally put it all together. He still didn’t quite hit the throw and backed off a little at the end of it, but we both yelled when the throw hit the ground because we knew he was advancing. It’s exciting to know that he can throw even farther.”

Gumbs topped his own personal best by more than a foot and catapulted himself up the leaderboard after sitting in 19th heading into the final throw. The top 12 advances to the NCAA Championships.

He is the first NSU thrower to advance to nationals since Cedric Paul did it in 2018, also in the shot put.

Twin Diamante Gumbs placed 41st with a 53-7.75.

NSU sprinters Kie’Ave Harry and Destine Scott are one step closer to reaching the NCAA Championships scene as individual sprinters.

Harry finished third in his 100 meters heat to automatically advance to Friday’s finals while Scott’s time pushed him through in the 400 meters.

Harry clocked a 10.27 to place 21st overall in a 48-runner field that was trimmed to 24 for Friday’s races.

The LaPlace native set foot in Oregon in 2018 when the freshman ran a leg on the All-American 4×100 relay team that reached the finals and finished seventh.

“Kie’Ave started cramping around 85-90 meters, so he actually slowed up a little bit at the end,” Heimerman said. “Hopefully he can work that out and run a full 100.

“But he had the mindset to survive and advance, and that’s what he did.”

Harry can double up on Friday if NSU’s 4×100 relay breaks through as the Demons are seeded 12th with a 39.35 season-best. The top 12 relays will head to nationals.

Scott nearly set a personal record in the 400 meters at 46.52 running out of Lane 2, finishing fifth in his heat and advanced on time with a 16th overall.

He finished .14 ahead of the slowest qualifying time that wasn’t a top three in the heat in his first regional appearance.

“The impressive thing about Destine is Lane 2 is extremely hard to run because it’s a tight curve and the first 100 meters is all curve,” Heimerman said. “There were a couple of things he didn’t quite execute, but he ran an almost perfect race and qualified in the top 24 despite coming in ranked 35th.

Fellow 100 meters mate Nikaoli Williams couldn’t advance in either of his events.

He clocked his wind-legal personal best of 10.52 in the 100, placing eighth in his heat and 40th overall.

In the long jump, Williams attempted all three of his jumps into significant headwinds, leaping 24-1 to finish 22nd in a tough 4.7 headwind. He fell 7.5 inches short of an NCAA slot with 24-8.5 qualifying for nationals in the top 12.

“Nikaoli was ready to go and wanted it really bad,” Heimerman said. “It’s not an excuse, but he ran into a headwind, and it just affects some guys differently.

“It’s great experience for all of our guys to compete on this level, and it’ll help us going forward.”

In the 200 meters, Simon Wulff pulled up in the first 15 meters with an aggravated foot injury while Dylan Swain finished eighth in his heat with a 21.62.

Both would be available to run legs of the 4×100 relay Friday if healthy.

Photo: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services