Jones a long way from home helping Penguins
YOUNGSTOWN — Olivia Jones grew up more than 3,600 miles away from Youngstown and had never heard of the city that lays about midway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh when she was younger.
Fast forward several years and the sophomore pentathlete from Gloucestershire, England, has begun re-writing sections of the YSU women’s track and field record book.
Being a multi-event athlete isn’t easy.
“It’s pretty difficult,” Jones said on Saturday during a break in competition at the Horizon League Indoor Track & Field Championships at the WATTS. “But (coach) Tyler (Mettille) is really good at managing my time, so he makes sure that I don’t have two consecutive jump days, and he’ll make sure I recover well and stuff.”
Jones had to compete in the 60-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and 800-meter run all in the same day. Jones scored 3,681 points, which broke her own school record of 3,558, a mark she set at Clemson in January.
It’s the second straight year that Jones took first in the pentathlon at the league meet.
In the outdoor heptathlon, she’ll take part in events such as the javelin, 200 dash, and the 400. Last year, she set the school record in the heptathlon with 4,758 points and was named the Horizon League Women’s Field Events Freshman of the Year in both the indoor and outdoor seasons.
As a coach, Mettille said time management is the key to success with a multi-event athlete.
“Kind of in the word or the phrase for our entire season over the past five or six weeks has been load management,” he said. “So she actually hasn’t really competed in many events in the past couple weeks because she’s had a little bit of an injury going on.
“But it’s all about managing an athlete across all events, knowing where you need to improve versus were she’s already doing well.”
Jones’s parents were in attendance and sported custom made T-shirts in support of their daughter.
Sometimes being so far away from home is hard, but Jones said she feels that she has a strong support system at YSU.
“Sometimes it’s difficult, like if I have a bad day. It’s nice to have my parents here,” she said. “But when I don’t have that, my team are super supportive.
“Like, they’ll lift me up and they make me feel so super welcome and homely.”
Jones was originally recruited by coach Katrine Brumfield, coach for Oakland University’s track and field program, which was the first time Jones even heard about Youngstown, Ohio. She was being recruited by other colleges, but said she felt that having the WATTS sold her on YSU.
Mettille said he thinks Jones has handled the transition from England to the United States well.
“She’s got a great personality, she can talk to anybody. She’s made quite a few close friends here,” he said. “Next year we have another multi-event young lady coming here, Emily Bee (from Plymouth), so she’ll have someone here from her home country.
“I think that’ll help, but she’s done a phenomenal job, and I’m very proud of her.”
In the two years that Jones has been in Youngstown, what’s her favorite thing about the area?
“Handel’s, probably,” she said. “I love ice cream, I get the chocolate cake batter.”