EUGENE, Oregon – Jasmyn Steels will continue a long Northwestern State tradition when she jumps at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Thursday.
Steels extends an NSU streak of having at least one male or female participant at the Olympic Trials dating back to 1976.
The outgoing NSU senior is one of 24 American long jumpers competing for three U.S. Olympic Team spots Thursday at 7:45 p.m. at Oregon’s Hayward Field. Fans can watch the action on NBC’s Peacock Premium streaming service.
“There’s a long line of NSU athletes who have competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials, and it’s a neat tradition that we’re proud Jasmyn is carrying on,” said NSU coach Mike Heimerman. “Dating back to coach Jerry Dyes and Leon and Dean Johnson and continuing with the current staff, we’ve had somebody at the Olympic Trials in every cycle.
“That means NSU track and field is very good, not just from a coaches standpoint but from an athlete standpoint in that Louisiana and East Texas has a lot of talent. It’s a cool streak to have.”
Steels was in Eugene just two weeks ago when she finished 22nd at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, and Heimerman thinks Steels will rebound in the same facility.
“Jasmyn should have a little familiarity out there, and that’s a plus,” Heimerman said. “She’s been on big stages before, so she’ll be ok.
“She has the chance to avenge a bad meet, and I know she’ll jump well and can end her season on a great note.”
Steels’ personal record 22-0.25 captured silver at the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Austin, Texas, and Heimerman said she’ll need to best that mark to take aim at one of the three U.S. Olympic spots.
Her season best is 21-5.25 at that same venue during the Texas Relays.
Steels claimed the 2019 NCAA Indoor national championship with a jump of 21-2.5.
“After watching these trials, it’s more than likely going to take a personal record for Jasmyn, something over 22 feet,” Heimerman said. “But I know Jasmyn will give it everything she’s got.
“She’s already one of the best 24 jumpers in the United States, not just collegiately, just to be out there. So we’re already really proud of her, and I wouldn’t bet against her.”
Even on a day when Steels finished 22nd, she was a toenail away from the podium.
Her second jump would have certainly landed her in the finals (for an extra three attempts) and possibly the podium, meaning Steels had the juice on her two fouled attempts before measuring 19-8 on her third jump.
“Talking to Jasmyn after the meet, she was disappointed,” Heimerman said. “But she knows she had a jump that would have probably put her in the top three if not won a national title (Texas’ Tara Davis won with a 21-11.75).
“But (jumps coach TyRon Stewart) and I talked to her, and she knows she has the capability of being top three out there with consistency on the runway and making adjustments. She has the capability of doing something special and maybe even making the team.”
Steels has competed as part of Team USA before – claiming second at the North American Central American and Caribbean Championships in Mexico in July of 2019.
NSU has produced three Olympians – LaMark Carter in 2000 (triple jump) and Kenta Bell in 2004 and 2008 (triple jump).
In the latest Olympic Trials, three NSU athletes competed with Trecey Rew Hoover, Justin Walker and Aaron Williams donning the Demon purple.
When Steels walks out with NSU logo on her chest Thursday, it’ll be for the last time.
She’ll cap a collegiate career that’s included a national championship, three All-American honors and two Southland Conference titles.