Northwestern State hires former standout Jones as head coach

Former Northwestern State sprinter De'Shalyn Jones was hired as the new cross country coach. CREDIT: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services

One of Northwestern State’s most accomplished track athletes is a Demon again.

De’Shalyn Jones has been hired as NSU’s cross country and distance coach, announced NSU head track and field coach Mike Heimerman.

Jones is a distinguished sprinter, winning nine Southland Conference gold medals and setting school records in the 100, 200, and 400 meters as well as the 4×100 and 4×400 relays.

Heimerman believes Jones’ competitive nature as a student-athlete will translate well to coaching distance runners.

“De’Shalyn is a heckuva competitor, and she gave 100 percent any time that she stepped on the track,” Heimerman said. “She was out of track for a bit, and this is a way for her to get involved in coaching and get back into track.

“When I hired (NSU sprints coach Adam) Pennington, he was a jumps coach. He had never coached sprinters other than high school, but right now, he might be the best sprints coach that’s ever coached at NSU.”

Jones excelled on the track and in the classroom, twice being named the Southland Conference Runner of the Year and the league’s female track student-athlete of the year.

The Tyler, Texas, native was a USTFCCCA honorable mention All-American as part of NSU’s 4X100 relay that finished 22nd in 2018.

Jones competed as a professional sprinter after graduating before her career was cut short because of injuries.

Heimerman is excited to see Jones’ eagerness to learn more about distance running, reading old programs and asking a ton of questions.

“As an athlete that didn’t compete in that sport, she’s very competitive in that she doesn’t want to look bad,” Heimerman said. “She is a student of the sport and is doing an exceptional job of deepening her knowledge.

“That’s why I have all the confidence that she’ll do her homework and put her best foot forward. No doubt (Jones) will do that.”

Jones, a four-time All-Louisiana honoree, enters a program that’s well stocked.

Heimerman credited former coach Chris Sauer, who recently departed for a job in Long Island, New York, for doing a great job recruiting.

“When Chris got here, we had 10-12 runners. Now we’re at 21, and we’re growing day by day,” Heimerman said.

Jones has a psychology degree received in 2018 and will pursue her master’s in sports administration while coaching.