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Liberty's Jones is golden at States

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Mikalah Jones wins the triple jump

By Mike Forster

 

It must be something in the water.

Bedford athletes showed off their talents in leaping long distances at last weekend's 3A State Championships at Tolsma Indoor arena.

Lasses from Liberty High School and Staunton River racked up points in the long jump, triple jump and high jump events.

Perhaps they're drinking spring water?  Get it?!

Puns aside, Liberty's Mikalah Jones led a bevy of bounding belles to glory at this year's State 3A track meet, hosted at Liberty University's Tolsma Indoor Arena.

Jones earned a State title in the triple jump, making her trips through airport security even more confounding.  You see, one of the young lady's ring fingers already bears a State ring:  Jones won the triple in last spring's State outdoor championship.

Soon, she'll sport another fine piece of jewelry on the other hand.  Jones may not (yet) be out-blinging the likes of Jennifer Lopez, but she's knocking on the door.

And J-Lo didn't earn her rings by throwing herself 35' 9.75", as Jones did in taking her triple jump title.

"It wasn't my best," Jones said, noting she'd gone 37 feet earlier.

What's oddest about her win is that the State meet was only the fourth in which Jones has competed this winter.  Until her team was bounced from the playoffs, Jones was dedicating her athletic time to a different sport.  "I'd have preferred playing basketball," she said, ruing her team's post-season elimination.

Sometimes dark clouds do have silver linings.  Or, in this case, golden ones.

Speaking of silver, Jones' teammate Oksana Kittrell struck just that in nabbing second in the triple, just half a foot behind her teammate.  "I was scared Oksana might beat me," said Jones.

But that likely would have been OK with her.  The two of them, along with Alexus Pannell, have done a magnificent job of helping each other out and improving on their pit performances.

Kittrell, the "Joyful Jumper," also nabbed eighth in the long jump.  Jones earned third in the long.

Speaking of long-jumping Joneses, Staunton River's Taylor Jones was jumping up a storm.  The Roanoke College-bound senior took fourth place in three separate field events:  the long, triple and high jumps.

"Being in three events at States is absurd," chuckled River Head Coach Joe Curcio.  "We asked (Taylor) if we could scratch her (from one), but she said she'd do all three."

And did she ever do those events.  Tying or nearing her personal bests in all three events, Jones tied for fourth place in the high jump, with a leap of 4'10".  She also took fourth in the triple (33' 4") and long (16' 7.25").

Showing that the narrowest of margins matter in the sport, Jones missed out on third place in the long jump, edged by Liberty's Mikalah Jones by 0.25 inches.  Taylor Jones also missed out on making the field in the 55 meter dash by .02 seconds.

Still, everyone in black and gold was thrilled for her.  Jones racked up 14.5 team points, which was the team total for River.  Thus, if there were such a thing as Taylor Jones High School, that team would have earned 12th place at States.

As it is, Staunton River took that position thanks to its soaring senior.

Liberty, meanwhile, racked up 38 points in finishing sixth.  The Minettes got a big boost from Angelic Gee.  The "Angel of the Shot Put" tossed the iron 34' 11" to earn third place and six big points.

Liberty's quartet of Deysia Baldwin, Laura Garbarini, Kittrell and Ryann Ridley blazed its way to a third place finish in the 4 X 200 meter relay (1:52.59).  

Ridley, Baldwin and Garbarini also teamed up with Kennedy Flynn to earn eighth-place medals in the 4 X 400 relay (4:23.17).

"It helps having really good athletes," said a pleased Liberty Head Coach Ben Wiese, when asked the secret of his success.  "Hopefully, we can keep the momentum going and get some more people out (for outdoor),"