Leader Blues

Monday, June 04, 2007

SPORTS>>Lady Lion wins heptathlon

Leader sportswriter

Girls high school track in the state of Arkansas undisputedly belongs to Searcy junior Whitney Jones. Jones entered the 2007 heptathlon at Cabot High School this week as the heavy favorite, and she did not disappoint. Her final point total of 4,885 was more than enough to take her second-straight heptathlon title, 670 points ahead of second-place finisher Kanesha Hicks of Pine Bluff.

Jones held a comfortable lead after the first day of the two-day event with 3,108 points, 466 ahead of Warren’s La Toya Marshall. Her only event wins came in the long jump and the 200-meter dash, but she broke personal bests in several other events, including a 4’9” measurement in the high jump, five inches better than her previous best of 4’4”.

Jones says this spring has been a little chaotic with all the attention towards her, but the chaos has not prevented her from enjoying herself.

“My indoor season was a lot more hectic,” Jones said. “I went to a lot of meets out of state preparing and lifting weights to get stronger and faster. But the indoor season is what really got me ready.”

Jones started 2007 off with open meets at the University of Kansas and University of Kentucky. She took first in the 200-meter dash in Kansas, and finished second in the long jump. Another second in the long jump came at Kentucky, along with a second-place in the triple jump. Her biggest pre-season splash garnered her national attention, when she made all-American in the triple jump with a 19’ jump.

The start of the indoor season in Arkansas saw Jones break four state records, including the long jump, triple jump and200-meter dash.

A knee injury before the 6A-Conference meet thwarted what might have been on an elite level for Jones, who started the meet undefeated in high school track up until that point. The strains of her injury showed, with Jones settling for second-place in the 400-meter run. She also took second in the 400 at state, which stood as her only loses in the entire 2007 season.

Her second-straight appearance at the Meet of Champs two weeks ago solidified Jones as the state’s best, winning all four of her events, and breaking her own MOC record from 2006 in the triple jump. “I knew I would have to do a lot better this year,” Jones said. “Because people knew who I was now, and would be gunning for me. I really haven’t had a lot of pressure this year, I’ve just been trying to work harder and get better.”

While she doesn’t have a particular school in mind for college, Jones does have what she refers to as a “Top-ten list of no particular order”, including Baylor, UCLA, Miami, Kansas State and the University of Florida. She says her biggest dream, however, is right around the corner in 2008.

“That is my biggest goal,” Jones said. “Is to be in the Olympics. I want to do the triple jump and the long jump. I want to try for it in the near future.”

Other area entries for the heptathlon included Bekah Miller of Cabot, who finished 18th out of the 39 entries with 3,137 total points. Beebe’s Jordan Kelly took home 26th place with 2,829 points, and Jones’ Lady Lion teammate Shaliha Anthony finished 30th with a final score of 2,655 points. Cabot sophomore Tori Hendrix took 35th place with 2,235 points in her first heptathlon appearance.