Northwestern has the best mark among the 14-team conference in eight events, five on the women’s side, while a total of 19 performances by NSU competitors rank in the Southland’s top six.
Leading the charge for the Demons are senior All-America sprinter Justin Walker, tops in the league in the 100 (10.08 seconds) and 200 (20.66) meter dashes, and junior Aaron Williams, No. 1 in the triple jump (51-4 ¼) and second in the long jump (24-9 ½).
Walker is third nationally in the 100 and 24th in the 200. Williams is 21st in the NCAA long jump standings, 40th in the long jump.
The Lady Demons stand 1-2 in the Southland in the triple jump with sophomore Por’sha Thomas (40-0 ¾) and freshman Taylor Walker (39-8), and in the discus with senior Shakemia Johnson (161-10) and sophomore Rechelle Bessard (161-6). Junior Keona Jackson is tops in the shot put (49-8 ¼).
Senior Consuela Lindsay has been the Southland’s top runner in the 400-meter hurdles all spring with her 2014 best of 1:00.15. Another senior, Kenyah McDaniel, took over the league lead in the women’s long jump with a 20-5 ¼ leap (24th nationally) at the Leon Johnson NSU Invitational.
Bessard set the Lady Demon hammer record at the same meet two weeks ago (184-8) and was third seeded in Friday afternoon’s competition, which includes the opening day of the multi-events. Jackson stands sixth (175-0).
Most of the running preliminaries and field event finals in the long jump, javelin and discus are Saturday, with the high jump, triple jump and shot put finals Sunday along with title races in most running events.
Lindsay and fellow senior Quiana Griffin (400 meter dash) are school record-holders in their specialties and in the 4x400 meter relay, and have excellent records of peaking with medal-stand finishes through their four seasons at Southland championship meets.
Walker holds the Demon records in the 100 and 200.
Heimerman is hoping for top five team finishes for the NSU men and women, with the women potentially threatening the top three.
The Demons were fifth, second among Louisiana teams, at this year’s Southland Indoor Championships, with the Lady Demons seventh.
“Physically, everybody is rounding into form,” said Heimerman. “I just hope that mentally, we have enough gas left after final exams and the kids will be excited to have that behind them with the ability to totally focus on the competition we’ve been preparing for all year long.
“All the kids have worked really hard this year and have adjusted to the coaching change after Coach Johnson’s retirement last summer. We’re one very big family, about 50 kids plus the staff, and we’ve had a good first year. Now all the performances go out the window and it’s how you do in your event, who will rise to the moment and help their team. It’s about place, not necessarily getting the best mark but getting the highest possible finish, and it’s about the team,” he said. “We’re excited.”