Texas Tech track and field star Terrence Jones had a fairly normal indoor season by his high standards last month, but he has a long competition ahead of him that could include the Paris Olympics. Considering what was in store, there was no need to worry.
But on Friday night at the Sports Performance Center, Jones reminded everyone that he can put on a breathtaking performance at any time.
The Red Raiders' 6-foot-4 senior ran the 60 meters in 6.47 seconds, making him the third-fastest player in the world this year. Jones tied the NCAA record two years ago with a 6.45 and won the NCAA title last year with a 6.46. He hadn't even gotten close to breaking 6.5 in the previous four races this season.
“Even though we're still in the training phase, we're happy to have some positive results,” Jones said after his run that led the NCAA this season. “I’m not where I should be right now, so seeing a 6.4 number now definitely gives me more confidence.”
Jones heads to Boston next month for a chance to become the fourth Division I sprinter to win multiple NCAA titles in the men's 60 meters. The others were Oklahoma's Da'Bryan Blanton, Florida's Jeff Demps and TCU's Ronnie Baker.
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The only two with better times this year are Noah Lyles and Hakeem Blake, who ran 6.44 and 6.45 at last weekend's New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston.
“It feels good to clash with the elite, and most of the time you feel like you're doing the right thing,” Jones said.
Jones made his breakthrough on the opening night of the two-day Jarvis Scott Open, but he wasn't alone among the high-tech sprinters who did well.
Rosemary Chukwuma, Success Umukoro move into top five in NCAA Division I rankings
Rosemary Chukwuma won the women's 60m race with a time of 7.10 seconds, while Success Umukoro came in second with a personal record of 7.15 seconds. Alyssa Colbert ran a 7.17 last week at Kansas State, giving the Tech women three of the top six finishes in Division I this season.
Chukwuma and Umukoro's runs started the celebrations, and moments later Jones and teammates Dondre Swint and Antoine Andrews ran 1-2-4 to take the lead in the men's final. Swint's 6.49 points and Andrews' 6.58 points were personal records.
It was only the second time this season that Chukwuma, who has been dealing with leg and hamstring problems, has run in the 60-second range at a meet.
“For the most part, everyone stepped up,” Tech assistant sprint coach Zach Grabash said. “Coach Rob (Calvin Robinson) has gotten the girls (performances) together. … Success has taken so many big steps in the last few weeks, and Rosemary is back for the first time. It's so great to see her moving forward again.”
“And their 60, top to bottom, might be the fastest 60 in NCAA history. Debo (Swint), what a rock star. And Terrence, we've been training hard, but he's just I needed to get a feel for the flow.”
Swint's performance added to an already impressive season for the second-year transfer from Florida State, and it was the first time he's been below 6.5.
“I'm really excited to see my teammate (Swint) finally do it,” Jones said, “because it's something he's carried for a long time. To see him finally run a 6.4 , I went over the edge.'' I'm proud of him now. ”
Ann Susannah Foster-Catta and Kayson McDonald move into NCAA DI top 10
On Saturday, returning All-American Ann Susannah Foster-Catta opened the season with a 44-foot triple jump to rank ninth in Division I. Foster-Catta, a graduate student from Paris, France, has struggled with knee problems each of her two years at the Polytechnic University.
Last year, the Open was delayed, but she still won the Big 12 indoor triple jump title and was named top team in the nation both indoors and outdoors.
“I came here with problems in both knees,” she said. “I'm working on strengthening and adding muscle to keep my knee healthy. It's still complicated at times, but I'm progressing towards my goals.”
Three athletes took first place in the high jump at 7-2 1/2, including two Tech students who set new personal records, Alexander Gerasimov in second and Cason McDonald in third.
“I knew this was going to happen,” McDonald said in his second game of the season since returning from an ankle injury. “I didn’t know it was coming yet, so I was surprised myself.”
Gerasimov, a freshman who redshirted at his request, participated without one, so his performance is a personal record but will not count towards the NCAA rankings.
McDonald and Tech's Omamyoubwi Elhire are among the four tied for ninth in Division I after clearing Kansas State last week with a 7-2-1/2 record. After the conference championship games, the top 16 individuals in each event will advance to the NCAA Championships.