Northwestern State’s Jackson named Southland Conference Women’s Track Athlete of the Year
NATCHITOCHES (NSU) – When Natashia Jackson looks in her trophy case, she sees five different Southland Conference superlative honors – all from the indoor championships.
Now Jackson will have to make room for a pair of outdoor awards.
The Northwestern State senior sprinter was named the Southland Conference Women’s Athlete of the Year and Outstanding Running Events Performer of the Year, the league announced Thursday.
“Speedy showed amazing effort and determination,” NSU coach Mike Heimerman said of Jackson, who will compete in the 200 and 400-meter prelims today at the NCAA East Preliminaries in Jacksonville, Fla. “She was determined going in, and she had made up her mind to win four gold medals and help the team as much as she could win a team title.
“We ended up second and Speedy won three golds, which is really incredible when you think about the condensed timeframe the events were run because of weather.
Jackson captured three gold and one silver medal in her four events at the SLC Championships earlier this month, in which the sprints were conducted in about a three-hour span.
She broke her own program record in the 400 meters, clocking a 53.14 and diving at the finish line to beat out Stephen F. Austin rival Imani Nave.
Jackson started with a leg on the winning 4x100 relay with teammates Diana Granados, Robyn Byrd, and Jayla Fields.
Then came the grueling 400 meters with just a 27-minute break until the 200 meters, Jackson’s only race she didn’t win (silver).
The quartet of Jackson, Granados, Janiel Moore, and Erin Wilson bounced back to dominate the 4x400 relay.
“I’ve said so many times that Speedy is the epitome of a student-athlete, a coach’s dream,” Heimerman said. “She had goals, and she showed true determination and grit in reaching for those goals.
“The 400 taxes your lactic system, and both her and Diana did an incredible job of running all four of those races, and they trained together in preparation of that. To finish second and third in that 200 meters after running the 4x100 and the 400, it takes mental fortitude and grit.”
Jackson’s three gold medals increased her career total to 19 golds at the SLC Indoor and Outdoor Championships combined, including relay races. It’s the second-highest total in conference history.
Her domination also continues the NSU women’s trend of dominating sprints.
A Lady Demon has captured three of the last four SLC Outdoor Athlete of the Year honors and four of the last five Most Outstanding Running Event Performer awards.
De’Shalyn Jones took home both awards in 2017 and 2018 on the heels of Jermeka McBride’s Most Outstanding Running Event Performer honor in 2016.
Jackson adds these two outdoor trophies to a plethora of Indoor Conference honors.
She was named the Women’s Athlete of the Year and Most Outstanding Runner in 2020 and the Most Outstanding Runner in 2018 and 2019 in the indoor.
The conference also announced its all-conference teams, which are determined by podium finishers in each championship event.
The NSU men and women won a total of 13 medals.
In addition to Jackson’s individual gold and silver medals and NSU’s two relay medals, Annemarie Broussard (pole vault) and Jasmyn Steels (long jump) were champions in their events.
Steels also lassoed silver in the triple jump.
Granados, part of the two relay golds, added bronze in the 200 meters.
Moore, part of the 4x400 gold, picked up two hurdles medals, silver in the 100 hurdles and bronze in the 400 hurdles.
Kristin McDuffie earned her first outdoor medal with bronze in the discus.
On the men’s side, sprinters Kie’Ave Harry (100 meters) and Kennedy Harrison (200 meters) captured bronze in their events.
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