AUSTIN — For a brief moment, Northwestern State’s Jasmyn Steels held the lead in the women’s long jump at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships late Thursday night.
The A&M Consolidated graduate got a rude reminder of its brevity from the public address announcer later when accepting her second-place trophy. With the clock close to striking midnight, the PA announcer bellowed to an emptying Mike A. Myers Stadium the eighth- through third-place finishers, then got to Steels and proclaimed she had “lost” the competition to Florida’s Yanis David on the next to last jump.
“I thought nah, nah, nah — it was a very good competition,” Steels said. “Don’t down on me. I was thinking, get out of here, because it was very good competition overall, very fun.”
Steels’ first jump of 21 feet, 1.25 inches put her in second place, and she held that spot until her fourth jump when she cleared a personal-best 22-0.25 to take the lead over David by 1.25 inches.
The leap felt like a breakthrough for the former Lady Tiger.
“Honestly this whole outdoor season hadn’t been right for me,” Steels said. “My run has been a little off, but I made it to regionals, made it to nationals, and it was time to fix it, and I fixed it. I just trusted myself, stayed open in my run, really got my foot down, because I was not trusting myself and stutter-stepping toward the end, and you don’t need that. The fastest off the board wins, so I really fixed that.”
A round later David came back with her personal-best of 22-5.25 to reclaim the lead going into the final jump. Steels let David know she was coming after her in the final round.
“I did. I said, don’t you worry Yanis. I got you. We got another jump. I got you,” Steels said. “I felt I had a better jump in me. It’s competition, and you have to stay engaged at all times, so I was ready to go.”
Steels’ last jump went 21-3.25, her fourth of the event to surpass 21 feet, but this season’s NCAA indoor long jump champion missed on a national double by 5 inches. Still, her worst jump of Thursday’s six went longer than her personal-best of 20-7.75 before the season.
Steels ran the 100-meter hurdles and the 4x100 relay and did all the jumps at Consol under coaches Kevin Waters and Sharolyn Wilson before graduating in 2016. She signed early with Northwestern State and finished her high school career ranked in the nation’s top 25 in the long jump and triple jump in her recruiting glass.
Now a junior at Northwestern State, Steels has narrowed her focus to the long jump under assistant coach Tyron Stewart, who triple jumped for Texas A&M from 2008-11.
“He was brand new when I went to college,” Steels said. “The guy who recruited me was not there, so my freshman and sophomore year, [Stewart] was just trying to get to know us, how we jump, and he’s a great coach. He has a knack for it.”