Soon to be a Sooner

Tribune Chronicle file photo Garfield’s Lauren Jones, shown here at the state track and field meet, signed with Oklahoma.

Garfield track and field star Lauren Jones just can’t seem to sit still. Day-in and day-out, Jones has to keep busy, or else she gets bored.

Starting next fall, the track athlete, basketball player, golfer, band member and flagline member will attend the University of Oklahoma, where she’ll continue her budding track career.

“The process for track recruiting is honestly a short period of time, when the coaches are allowed to start contacting you,” Jones said. “Oklahoma was late in the process, but its coach used to be the Miami of Ohio coach and knew me well. I took a visit down there in June, and honestly, the campus and atmosphere reminded me so much of home.”

Jones, who recently signed with the Sooners and plans on studying exercise science when she arrives in Norman in 2017, is a star on the G-Men track and field team. Jones is the two-time defending girls Division II state champion in discus, and also participates in high jump, long jump and shot put.

For the spring of 2017, the determined youngster has certainly set her sights on another state title in discus, but interestingly, her greater focus involves getting better at the other events.

“I want to see if I can get better at shot put, and I want to break the school’s long jump record of 17-3,” Jones said of some of her goals for the 2017 season. “Hammer (an event she just recently took up) is a good event for me. I trained with coach’s (Jim Pfleger) younger brother (Matt).

“He’s a two-time MAC (Mid-American Conference) champion in hammer. I’m gonna try to do some indoor meets, but there aren’t a whole lot of indoor or outdoor meets for hammer around Ohio.”

In fact, Oklahoma’s willingness to let Lauren participate in hammer events at the college level was a key factor in her signing with the Sooners. As for discus, Jones’ goal is to break the Division II state record of 170 feet-8 inches, which was set by South Point’s Teresa Sherman in 1989.

Thus far, Jones’ best recorded throw is about 10 feet off of that record, at 160-11. However, Garfield track coach Jim Pfleger says that Jones has made it to 170 feet on multiple occasions in practice.

So what makes Jones such a standout in discus?

“Her overall athleticism,” Pfleger said. “She’s been doing gymnastics since she was a little kid. Her flexibility is off the charts. This offseason, for the first time ever, she began lifting weights. Prior to that, she had gotten by on just her natural athleticism, alone.”

For Lauren, the challenges of jumping from one sport or activity all year round certainly cuts into her preparation for the track season. And while a two-time state champion would seem like the last person that needs to go back to the drawing board in discus, Jones and her coaches are doing just that this offseason.

“I haven’t done too much yet for discus. When one season is done, I go to the next,” Jones said. “The coaches and I are starting from the ground up this year. I’m gonna work out all the quirks in my techniques and refine my skills. Luckily, I already have muscle memory for all of that.”