NSU's Walker runs world's best 100 time in one of three wins at Southland Outdoors
CONWAY, Ark. (KALB News Channel 5) Northwestern State senior All-America sprinter Justin Walker ran the fastest 100 meters in the world this year, a 9.95 time, in one of his three sprint victories Sunday at the Southland Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Walker's 100 time came with a 2.5 mph tailwind, legal for rankings and NCAA qualifying but over the 2.0 mph limit for records, so it didn't break the meet or school mark (both 10.13). Wind didn't deny him lowering his own school record by 0.02 to 20.47 in his dominating 200 meter performance. He ran a sizzling third leg on the Demons' winning 4x100 meter relay team to open the afternoon, with the 39.89 by football receiver and NSU track newcomer Shakeir Ryan, Keenan Jones, Walker and Ty Shilling ranking 25th on the NCAA list entering the day.
Walker's 100 performance topped a 9.98 run by South African Simon Magakwe as the world's fastest in 2014, according to Track & Field News. It improved on the collegiate best of 10.01 shared by Alabama's Diondre Batson and Trayvon Bromwell of Baylor. Walker entered the meet ranked fourth in the NCAA in the 100 with a 10.08 mark two weeks ago). His 200 time moved him up 10 slots to 13th on the NCAA list in that event and broke his school mark set in his freshman year, 2010.
Lady Demon senior Consuela Lindsay carved more than a half-second off her two-year-old school record in the 400 meter hurdles as she held off Southeastern Louisiana's Alicia Noel, the defending champion, to win in by 0.02 in 58.05. That is the 18th-best collegiate time of the season.
Another big improvement, though not a school record, in a winning performance by an NSU competitor came from sophomore Por'sha Thomas in the triple jump. Her victory came on her final jump, a 41-7 leap that soared by her previous career best of 40-0 ¾ and dethroned Sam Houston's Keylynne Wright, who was leading at 40-11 ¾. The mark moved her to third on the Lady Demons' all-time performance list.
The wins by Lindsay and Thomas, coupled with victories Saturday in the javelin (Jessica Talley) and a 1-2 finish in the discus (Rechelle Bessard, Shakemia Johnson), helped the Lady Demons soar to third place in the final team standings. Texas rivals Sam Houston State (176 points) and Stephen F. Austin (132) ran away from the rest of the 14-team field, with NSU scoring 75, meet host Central Arkansas at 68, followed by McNeese (66), Southeastern (60) and Lamar (53) as top half finishers.
Walker's heroics coupled with a second-place 51-4 ¼, matching his career best, in the triple jump by junior Aaron Williams, helping the Demons hit their pre-meet target of fifth place. SLU edged SFA 157-156 for the men's team crown, followed by Sam Houston (96), league newcomer Abilene Christian (53), Northwestern and Lamar (tied at 57), and McNeese (52) in the upper half of the final standings.
"I got a great jump, and I was able to keep my arms moving through the first 50 meters," said Walker. "After that I was able to turn it over the way I knew I could. I thought it was near 10.0, and when I heard 9-something, I was ecstatic."
"Justin was as good as we thought he might be, just spectacular," said first-year NSU head coach Mike Heimerman. "He had an amazing third leg on the 4x100. That gave us a great start to the afternoon. His 100 time, just an incredible feat. He ran a dominating 200 and then stepped in on the 4x400 relay, running our second leg and giving us a 46-second split, our best one, trying to help us get a few more points in the team standings," said Heimerman.
"We had a phenomenal day on both sides. We thought those team finishes were within our reach and we hit our targets, and were very close on the men's side to fourth," said Heimerman. "Por'sha came through under pressure to win the triple jump, Consuela ran a beautiful race and held off a great charge to set a school record and run a great time in the 400 hurdles. Aaron Williams matched his career best under pressure, then the Sam Houston jumper (Charles White) hit a huge PR (51-7 3/4) to win."
The Lady Demons picked up a second-place 48-4 in the shot put by Keona Jackson. Quiana Griffin ran a fifth-place 54.91 in the 400 meter dash final and combined with fellow senior Lindsay, among others, on the 4x100 (46.07, fifth) and 4x400 (3:43.70, sixth) relay squads. Taylor Walker finished eighth in the triple jump (38-8 3/4).
Demon junior Brent Giddens was fourth in the 110 meter hurdles (14.54) while Jackson ran seventh in the open 400 (48.09) and Quinton Helaire was seventh in the high jump (6-4 3/4). NSU finished sixth in the men's 4x400 relay (3:14.44).
"There are a few spots where we wish we'd been better, but overall, I'm very proud of these athletes for how they worked to get ready and competed this weekend," he said.
After several season-best performances at the Southland Championships, NSU appears poised to take a dozen athletes to the NCAA East Regional Championships late this month. Some Northwestern competitors will try to enhance their chances of being in the region's top 48 in a last-chance qualifying meet next weekend hosted by Georgia Tech.