COMMERCE, Texas—The Northwestern State track and field teams won six gold medals Saturday, capping off a runner-up finish for both teams at the Southland Conference outdoor championships at Memorial Stadium.
The women nearly completed an indoor/outdoor sweep, but came in second to Lamar, which had 155 points to NSU’s 145. They are the only schools to accumulate more than 100 points.
On the men’s side, the Demons tallied 116.5 points, second only to UIW’s 142.
“We did everything we could do,” assistant coach Adam Pennington said. “We fought until the end with both men and women. All the kids gave it their all, we just came up short. It’s part of the sport. Overall, I’m extremely proud of the way we fought. There was no lack of effort that’s for sure.”
But both teams had the most outstanding performer of the championships in their respective genders. Sanaria Butler won the honor for the women and Djimon Gumbs for the men.
Once again on the final day of competition, the sprints teams came to the forefront, and the units did not disappoint.
The string of success in the sprints began and ended with a bang, starring the relay teams.
In the women’s 4×100 relay team that broke the Memorial Stadium record by running a 44.99 to capture the gold, holding on to the lead despite a hard-charging Sydne Porter of Lamar who created a photo finish.
That mark is also the seventh-best time in program history.
The night ended with the Lady Demons in the 4×400 relay break a SLC championships record with a 3:45.77. The men came in second in the event with a season-best time of 3:08.57.
“To end the competition with two relays running their seasons fastest time was unbelievable,” Pennington said. “I’m not sure how they even did it. They ran many races over the last three days and somehow they stood tall.”
On the men’s side in the 4×100 relay, NSU collected the silver medal with a 39.54, only out-done by Texas A&M-Commerce’s group that set a conference championship record with a 39.38.
Vanessa Balde walked away with the gold in the 100-meter hurdles by running a personal-best 13.46. Teammate Orsciana Beard came in fifth in the event with a 14.52.
It comes as no surprise that NSU came away with the top two times in the women’s 400-meter dash, as Maygan Shaw came away with the gold with a 52.79 and Sanaria Butler ran a 53.01 for the silver.
Despite missing about a month, Lynell Washington ran a blistering 100-meter dash, which is the 10th-best time in school history in the event and is her second consecutive win in the 100-meters in the conference championships.
Washington now owns six of the top 11 times in the women’s 100 in NSU history.
The Lady Demons collected three of the top four times in the women’s 200-meter dash. Butler ran a season-best 23.66 to come away with the silver and Shaw collected the bronze with a time of 23.67. Balde ran a season-best 23.73 to finish fourth and Washington placed seventh with a 24.60.
Destine-Unique Scott walked away with the bronze in the men’s 400-meter dash, running a 47.32. SLU’s Eugene Omalla won the race by running a Memorial Stadium record 46.06.
In the men’s 200-meter dash, Simon Wulff collected the bronze with a time of 20.73 while Cyrus Jacobs’ 21.06 is a season best to finish fifth.
In the women’s 400-meter hurdles, Sian Weller also collected the bronze with a 59.30.
The field athletes didn’t perform too shabby, either, highlighted by the Gumbs twins.
For the second consecutive season, the Demons swept the podium at the men’s discus, but there was a new winner. After watching his twin brother Djimon beat him out for the gold in 2022, Diamante Gumbs took his turn at the top of the podium this time around.
“It was probably one of the best feelings of the season,” Diamante Gumbs said with a smile on his face. “I was really focused going into the meet, trying to block out the pain from my injury. I was able to put the pieces together to come away with the win.”
Diamante Gumbs tossed a personal-best 184-04 on his third attempt and never relinquished the lead. Twin brother Djimon Gumbs brought home the silver with a 180-08 and Tarajh Hudson earned the bronze for a second straight season with a throw of 169-04.
“The guys’ throws today really gave us the opportunity to secure our second overall position,” Pennington said. “Going 1-2-3 I’m any event is never easy. Those boys are so valuable to this team.”
Djimon Gumbs wasn’t done with winning medals quite yet, as he grabbed the bronze in the men’s javelin. Despite not specializing in it, he tossed a personal-best 189-9 to finish third in the event.
Rei Park narrowly missed the finals, finishing 10th with a throw of 156-08.
The sixth attempt was the charm for Sanaria Butler in the long jump, leaping a personal-best 42-0.75, to vault from fourth to second place and earn the silver medal.
Jaslyn Smith also won points for the Lady Demons, coming in eighth place with a jump of 39-3.25. Abria Paul nearly reached the finals with a 38-6.25, but came in 10th.
In the men’s high jump, Randy Kelly earned a silver medal, matching a personal-best by clearing 6-11.5 when being down to his last attempt at the height, also clearing the mark at the Leon Johnson Invitational. Only Southeastern Louisiana’s record holder Slavko Stevic cleared a higher bar, doing so at 7-0.50.
Kelly, a freshman from Blythewood, South Carolina, credits his teammates for helping him complete his last attempt to tie a personal record.
“My team came over,” Kelly said. “They helped me get over that bump I couldn’t at first. I was really excited. A lot of hard work was put in and it paid off.”
Kaitlyn Washington earned NSU points on the women’s side with a fifth-place finish in the women’s discus. Teammate Bernesha Knowles placed 11th with a toss of 124-03.
Andrew Gilreath placed fifth in the men’s triple jump, posting a 48-5.5. Kelly finished 12th in the event with a jump of 43-8.5.
In the men’s 100-meters, Simon Wulff also finished in fifth with a time of 10.22, which is a season best.
Ceyda Bayur earned four points by coming in fifth with a time of 2:14.34 in the 800-meter run.
In the men’s 110-meter hurdles, Taj Morris finished eighth with a time of 14.53.
Maison Wilbanks picked up a point in the women’s high jump with an eighth-place finish, clearing a season-best 5-3.75.