FLEMING ISLAND – Clay High’s Morgan Jones (Class of 2013), who earned his first national track title at the Special Olympics National Track Championships in Seattle on Thurs., July 5, had been in …
FLEMING ISLAND – Clay High’s Morgan Jones (Class of 2013), who earned his first national track title at the Special Olympics National Track Championships in Seattle on Thurs., July 5, had been in numerous track races in his 12-15 years of competition, but when he walked into Huskie Stadium on the University of Washington campus in Seattle, he got a little nervous.
“It was very big,” said Jones, 25, and a Florida Special Olympics track team member in four events; the 800, the 400, long jump and the 4 x 400 relay. “I just tried to stay calm and remember what I had to do when I got to the start line. It was also the first time I saw Tim Shriver, the director of Special Olympics, in person.”
Jones’ competition started on Tues., July 3 with the 800 where he toed the line against some pretty stiff competition that got him off to a fast start.
“I went out really fast even though my strategy was to pace the first lap, then finish faster in the second lap,” said Jones, who holds a personal best time of two minutes, 24 seconds. “I was in second place after the first lap, but then the faster runners went around me.”
Jones finished in 2:34.42 for fifth place overall with the winner’s time at 2:19.16.
Jones, who claims Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, world record holder and multiple Olympic champion, as his favorite track athlete, continued the following day with the long jump and 8:30 a.m. with the 400 later at 11 a.m.
In the long jump, Jones finished sixth with an eight foot, one inch jump with the winner at 12 feet.
In the 400, Jones, in the day’s fastest heat, finished in 1:02.26 for his second fifth place medal with a 57.48 taking top honor with two other runners just under 60 seconds.
“I sprinted hard for the first 200, but other runners passed me when he headed to the finish,” said Jones. “It was my fastest time even though I finished fifth.”
In third in the 400, from Leon County, was Albert Dorsey in 58.88. Sixth place was a third Florida athlete; David Rams of Miami-Dade County, in 1:03.86. All three would be joined by Crestview’s Harrison Mauldin in the final day’s competition; the 4 x 400 relay. Rams also ran in the 800; winning his heat in 2:49.10.
“I went 1:02.26 in the 400 to take fifth again,” said Jones. “There were three of us from Florida in the 400 and we all finished in the top six places. Then we ran the relay together with Harrison who had run the 5000 and 10,000 meter races earlier.”
Jones, the leadoff leg for the quartet, blasted out with the fastest leadoff leg; 61 seconds, to give the Florida team an early lead en route to their 4:25.89 to claim the gold medal by more than a minute with the second fastest time clocking 5:29.17.
Jones noted that the 2022 USA Games will be held in Orlando as the 50th anniversary for Florida Special Olympics.
“I will train to be ready to get more gold medals,” said Jones. “I’d like to one day qualify for the Special Olympics World Games.”
Jones, who was awarded the Clay County Special Olympics athlete of the year in 2018, is the son of Howard and Louise Jones on Eagle Harbor and has two brothers; Ross Jones, 41, of Jacksonville Beach, and Dr. Lewis Jones, 37, of Jupiter.