BATON ROUGE – Another week and another Northwestern State sprinter first.
Junior Brandon Letts snatched his first collegiate win Friday as he highlighted three Demons in the top four of the 60 meter finals at LSU’s Louisiana Invitational.
Letts clocked a 6.82 in one of NSU’s six event wins in the nine-team field of Louisiana schools. He was followed closely by second-place Kie’Ave Harry, who won the 60 at Texas A&M in the season opener and fourth-place Tre’Darius Carr (6.88).
“The last few weeks we’ve been focused on training and weights and go harder at practice,” said NSU associate head coach Adam Pennington. “This is a big positive for Brandon (ties personal record) going into the second half of indoor season, and Harry ran a decent race despite missing time with an injury and Tre’Darius also ran well today.
“We’d like those times to be a little faster, but it’s important for Brandon to get that win and be on that competitive stage. Overall we competed well today against schools from around the state and in the (Southland Conference).”
NSU’s depth of sprint success translated into event wins in both the men’s and women’s 4×400 relay.
The quartet of Dejon Blake, Ebenezer Aggrey, Destine Scott and Kennedy Harrison ran a converted time of 3:15.02, which ranks ninth in NSU indoor history. Because Carl Maddox Fieldhouse’s track isn’t banked, the NCAA converts times for events involving curves.
The Lady Demons countered with a 4×400 relay title led by Diana Granados, Janiel Moore, Erin Wilson and Alexus Harris, crossing at 3:50.74, which ranks second in the Southland Conference this season.
Granados had a banner day with gold in the 600 meters, edging teammate Erin Wilson with a 1:41.54. Wilson finished a tenth of a second behind with freshman Portia Harris capturing fourth (1:45.48). All three times were personal bests with Granados and Wilson posting the fifth and sixth best times in NSU Indoor history, respectively.
Jumpers Lauren-Ashley Clarke and Markeit Steverson missed the opening meet, but they didn’t miss a beat upon their return.
Clarke took the high jump by four inches at 5-07 and finished second in the triple jump (41-5.75).
Steverson outleapt his long jump competition with a 22-9.
“Lauren picked up right where she left off, and she’ll put herself into contention for an SLC title,” Pennington said of the reigning triple and high jump champion. “Markeit came out and had a good first meet as he shook the rust off.
“He had lost some weight and strength because of illness, so it was great to see him come out like that.”
NSU women’s sprints had another solid showing as Lynell Washington and Aarika Lister made the 60 meter finals.
Washington placed fifth with a 7.59 while Lister checked in at seventh. In the prelims, Lister set a career best with a 7.57.
Hurdler Janiel Moore qualified for the 60 meter prelims before finishing fourth in the 60 hurdles finals at 8.71. Aliyah Carswell made the finals with a 9.25.
“Aarika opened with a blazing time, but she didn’t execute the finals race like we wanted her to,” Pennington said. “Lynell has been consistent despite missing practice time with an injury.
“Janiel was working on speed work for the hurdles, so the fact that she advanced in the 60 meters was cool. We’re expecting big things from the sprints and hurdles group.”
For the second straight meet, NSU rearranged its record books in the men’s mile.
Yannik Gerland ran a converted 4:19.87 to place fifth, which supplanted Payten Vidourek for the second fastest performer all-time on NSU’s indoor mile list.
Vidourek clocked a 4:21.84 in the season opener.
“To have two guys in the top eight (in the SLC) in the mile is great for us,” Pennington said. “Yannik was back home in Germany this fall, and he’s looked really good this spring.
“Payten is also doing really well, and it’d be great if we could get points in that event come the (SLC Championships).”
Other top-four placements include Olivia Sipes (second in the 800 meters), Parish Kitto (fourth in the pole vault), Jayla Fields (fourth in the long jump) and Briana Washington (43-1).
PHOTO CUTLINE: NSU’s Diana Granados took home 600 meters gold and ran a leg on the first-place 4×400 squad Friday at the Louisiana Invitational
CREDIT: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services
PHOTO CUTLINE: NSU’s Brandon Letts won his first collegiate event Friday, taking the 60 meters as three Demons finished in the top four at the Louisiana Invitational.