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YSU’s Jones captures heptathlon

YOUNGSTOWN — It’s been an outstanding weekend so far for Youngstown State University Track and Field as both teams enter the final day of the Horizon League Outdoor Track and Field Championships with first-place leads.

The men’s team sits at 122 points (Milwaukee is second with 97.5), and the women’s team is cruising along with 134 points (Milwaukee again is second with 60).

Olivia Jones, a standout on the women’s team who hails all the way from Gloucestershire, England, has been one of YSU’s top performers as a freshman.

Jones took home the heptathlon Saturday with a score of 4,758 points, and shattered the previous record by 149 points.

“It’s kind of bittersweet because I was going for a big PR.” she said. “But I didn’t manage to hit it because, day two went a bit iffy, but it’s still nice to be able to have won. I’m happy.”

Jones did extremely well on Friday, when she scored top marks in the 100-meter hurdle, high jump and shot put.

She did this while also competing in individual round in javelin and finishing second.

Saturday, she finished her heptathlon with the javelin, long jump, and 800-meter, while also taking fourth in the individual round of the high jump.

Jones tries to be a versatile athlete.

“I just make sure that I train every event,” she said, “and just work on it little bits at a time, especially multis. It’s ridiculous.”

It isn’t always easy for an international athlete to go overseas and compete at a high level, but jumps coach Tyler Mettille believes Jones made the proper adjustments.

“I think she handles herself really well as a freshman,” Mettille said, “because as an international athlete, she’s competed on a pretty big stage before.

“She has a very good mentality about grinding out, and whatever she needs to do to get better, she’s willing to do.”

There has already been a lot of commendations for Jones, who won the indoor pentathlon earlier this season, as she was awarded the Horizon League Women’s Field Freshman of the Year for her performance in the indoor circuit.

YSU coach Brian Gorby thinks that Jones has a huge upside.

“She could basically, do all of the individual events, and finish in the top,” Gorby said. “We may do that next year because to do all of those events and score 10 has the capability to be top two in the hurdles, top two in the high jump, top two in the javelin, and you add that up, she could score 30-40 points. So she’s so good, we may look to go that direction with her. She’s probably one of the best athletes we’ve had as a freshman in the history here.”

Jones does have a wonderful support system, as her parents Owen and Joanna were both present at the indoor and outdoor league meets this season. Her parents even carried an English flag with the YSU logos on them this past weekend while they rooted their daugher on.

That support system helped her during her first year.

“The move was pretty smooth,” she said. “I made friends quick, I got head first into training right away, and everyone’s been so supportive. My friends have helped, so it’s been pretty easy. My parents have been really supportive.”

She’s happy that she decided to attend YSU and has big goals going forward.

“It’s really cool,” she said. “I’m glad that I picked here out of all the colleges because it’s such a big thing to be able to win the conference back to back, so it’s really nice to be a part of a team that supports each other as well.

“I want to hit 5,000 points in the heptathlon, and I wanna win conference every year.”

The final day of the the Horizon Outdoor Track and Field Championships begins at 10 a.m. today at Farmers National Bank Field on the campus of Youngstown State University.

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