NATCHITOCHES – Heavy thunderstorms hit the Natchitoches area before noon Saturday and pounded the Northwestern State campus for almost three hours, forcing cancellation of the Leon Johnson NSU Invitational track and field meet.
An initial band of storms swept through for about 40 minutes, leaving hope the meet might be resumed, but a trailing wave of torrential rain, high wind and lightning hammered the Walter P. Ledet Track and Field Complex. The competitive venues were unfit to restart the meet, said NSU head coach Mike Heimerman.
Johnson, head coach at NSU from 1982-2013, said it was the first time in his memory that weather wiped out a home meet for the Demons.
The women’s discus and the men’s shot put had been completed, with the women’s long jump, the men’s high jump, the women’s shot put and pole vault, and the men’s discus underway as lightning forced a halt to competition, with the storm striking a few minutes later after competitors and fans were evacuated to nearby shelter.
Because the meet was not completed, none of the results stand.
Visiting teams were Lamar, McNeese State, Southeastern Louisiana, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, Southern Arkansas, Alcorn State, Wiley College, Jarvis Christian, and Texas College.
It was the only home meet on NSU’s 2017 schedule, and will not be made up with the Southland Conference Outdoor Championships May 12-14, said Heimerman. It’s very likely that NSU will travel to compete next weekend instead of taking an open date, he said.
Nearly six dozen NSU track and field alumni gathered for the meet, including members of the Demons’ 1957 Gulf States Conference championship team and the 1987 Gulf States Conference championship squad, which marked anniversaries Saturday.