Tatyana Jones will never have to wonder, “What if?”
Before last month, she always talked about trying the long jump but never turned those thoughts into action.
Not wanting to finish her high school career with any regrets, Jones attempted the long jump during an early April practice.
Patriots jumps coach Jake Gyer could hardly believe what he saw.
Without any formal training, Jones blasted off the board for an 18-foot leap — a mark only inches shy of being the best in the state this season.
“We knew she was talented,” Centennial head coach Joel Segraves said. “We just didn’t know she was quite that talented.”
With her success in the long jump and an already lengthy resume in the 300-meter hurdles, Jones qualified for the maximum four events for the 5A state meet. It is the first time she will compete at state in more than one event.
“I’m hoping that my body can keep up with the rest of me,” Jones said. “I am definitely going to have to try to take one thing at a time.”
Jones won her third consecutive district title in the 300 hurdles last week and is the two-time defending state champion in the event. She’ll also run the 400 and the anchor leg on the 4x400 relay.
“It’s kind of ironic, because last year after the state track meet, she told me she was going to go to state in four events as a senior,” Segraves said. “... She told me she wasn’t sure what all the events would be, but one of them was going to be the long jump.”
Jones has competed in the long jump five times since she impressed her coaches at practice, and she continues to improve with every meet.
She broke the school record May 6 at Eagle’s Gary Gorrell Twilight with her mark of 17-11 then broke it again while simultaneously taking over the No. 1 ranking in the state when she won the 5A District Three meet with a distance of 18-2. She already holds the school record in the 300 hurdles at 43.71 seconds.
“I always wanted to long jump, but my coaches were kind of leery about it, because I have all these other events that I can do,” Jones said. “This year, I was like, ‘Well, it’s my senior year. I just want to do it.’”
Jones’ plan of qualifying for state in four events nearly fell apart when one of her 4x400 teammates injured her back during the district meet. Segraves put an alternate into the race and hoped for the best.
Eagle ran a 4:07.25 to win the first heat — a time that was more than a second faster than the Patriots’ best time this season. Only the top four teams advance to state, putting the Patriots on the bubble heading into in the eight-team second heat.
“Tatyana got her teammates together and told them, ‘We’re going to state. We’re going to make this happen,’” Segraves said. “That was a pretty cool race. They ran a three-second (personal record) to get to state.”
While there are only two days remaining in her high school career, Jones will have four more years to tap into her potential. She accepted an athletic and academic scholarship to compete for Division I Houston Baptist in Texas.
“I don’t think I’ve reached my max potential,” Jones said. “I definitely could see myself continuing to do long jump in the future.”
General admission to state track and field at Dona Larsen Park or Middleton High (3A/2A/1A meets) is $6 per day general and $5 per day discount. Senior citizens, students in grades 1-6 and students in grades 7-12 with an activity card may purchase the discount tickets.
Local returning state champions
- 5A boys: Cory Mullanix, Centennial (100, 200); Michael Slagowski, Rocky Mountain (800, 1,600, 3,200); Sam Brixey, Capital (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles); Dejan Nikolic, Centennial (high jump); Britt Ipsen, Capital (long jump)
- 5A girls: Tatyana Jones, Centennial (300 hurdles)
- 4A boys: None
- 4A girls: Sophia Adams, Bishop Kelly (discus); Lindsey Schmidt, Bishop Kelly (high jump); Auby Barr, Skyview (pole vault)