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On the face of it, they have little in common, other than the same last name.
One wears Liberty's red, white and blue.
The other dons Staunton River's black and gold.
One is a standout basketball player. The other excels in volleyball.
One is a junior, the other in her final year of high school.
One is black-haired. The other has light brown tresses.
But Liberty's Mikalah Jones and Staunton River's Taylor Jones do, in fact, have a lot in common.
They are both stellar athletes at their schools. Each is a top-notch performer in the classroom.
And both took first place in last week's 3A-West regional track meet last weekend.
Jones and Jones won the long and triple jump events. Taylor took the long, while Mikalah aced the triple. To compound matters, Taylor placed fifth in the triple, while Mikalah was runner-up in the long jump.
Taylor made a dramatic ending in the long jump. "I told myself it was now or never," she said. Then she hit the winning jump at 16' 3.5".
"I'd worked harder on the triple (than on the long jump) during practice this week," she said.
That hard work paid off for her, but it wasn't enough to overcome Mikalah, who has a State championship ring in that event (from last year's outdoor campaign).
The win in the triple, where she went 36' 3" helped provide something of a salve for the spirit. Mikalah's hoops team had been eliminated from any post-season contention the previous Wednesday evening (see story on page 2B).
We can expect some serious competition at this weekend's State (3A) championship between the Joneses. Mikalah's best effort in the long was less than two inches behind Taylor's best. Taylor is about a foot and a half behind Mikalah in the triple.
Compounding things are some other local leapers. Liberty's Oksana "The Joyful Jumper" Kittrell took second in the triple jump, throwing herself an impressive 35' 7.5", just behind her teammate.
Alexus Pannell, another Liberty launcher, punched her ticket to States with a sixth-place finish in the triple (34' 8").
Another standout for Liberty was Megan Beisser. The bounding Beisser took second place in the 55 meter hurdles, vaulting and dashing to a time of 9.36 seconds, improving from a fourth-place seeding. Beisser shaved 0.3 seconds from her preliminary time to nab the silver.
Another speedster was Staunton River's Taylor Tester. She'll head to States, courtesy of a 7.69 second dash in the 55 meters.
Also, the Liberty ladies relay teams fared well. The 4 X 200 meter crew took sixth place, clocking out at 1:55.19. That team is made up of Deysia Baldwin, Laura Garbarini, Sabri Parker and Ryan Ridley.
The 4 X 400 team looked even stronger. It's mark of 4:20.40 was good for fourth place. That team has some familiar faces, with Ridley, Garbarini, Beisser and Kennedy Flynn staffing it.
Over on the field side of things, Liberty's Angelique Gee flexed some muscle, tossing the shot put 32' 3" to earn fifth place.
The top six spots medalled in this meet (and earned a trip to States). Alas, no Staunton River or Liberty male athletes made the top six.
By the way, Blacksburg won both the boys' and girls' team regional championships handily. The Liberty girls finished in fifth, while Staunton River wound up ninth.
The State meet will be held this weekend at Liberty University.