Meet of the Elite: Searcy’s Whitney
Jones takes on the best of Class AAAAA today
As just a sophomore, Whitney Jones has already
torn through the track record book at Searcy High. Today, she’ll
compete in five events at the Class AAAAA state track meet in Cabot.
Whitney Jones took to the track at Lions Stadium on
Tuesday in preparation for today’s Class AAAAA state track-and-field
meet, she ran at a steady pace.
There was no one behind her, pushing or bumping her, making her run
just that much harder.
That will hardly be the case when Jones joins the
best of Class AAAAA and tries to sweep all five events in which she is
Jones has accomplished some amazing feats this season. None, however,
is as impressive as her qualifying for the state in five events as a
sophomore. She will compete today in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter
dash, along with the long jump and triple jump.
“As a sophomore, I knew I had a good chance of
making (state),” Jones said. “From looking at my times from last year
and comparing them to my times this year, I’m doing better.”
In fact, Jones said she’s dropped an entire second off her time in the
200 this year. Jones credits her vast improvement to speed and
“I lift a lot of weights,” she said.
Jones’ speed training includes the use of an elastic band that she
ties to the goal post at Lions Stadium. She then wraps the band around
her waist, using the band as a resistance as she runs. Jones said the
mechanism helped her shave two-tenths of a second off her time in her
track events in one week.
Jones said she likes her chances of winning all
five events in the state meet. Searcy head track-and-field coach
Charlie Carroll said achieving such a feat would be even more amazing
than anything Jones has accomplished this year.
“I don’t think anyone’s going to sweep all five events,” Carroll said.
“I don’t think anyone’s going to do that at any state meet.”
Jones’ strongest competition in the track events could come from
Camden’s Karen Thomas, who has pushed Jones in two indoor meets this
In the first indoor event in January, Jones beat Thomas in the
55-meter dash and long jump. She returned in February to beat Thomas
once again, this time in the triple jump and 400.
Those wins could prove to be a confidence booster for Jones come later
“I’ve got a good chance of winning all my events,” Jones said, “if I
go out there and do what I know I can do.”
If she can’t pull off the sweep, Jones said her best chances for
victory come in the track events. The key, she added, would be to get
off to a fast start.
“The one who usually gets out the fastest,” Jones said, “usually
maintains that speed. I’ve just got to run. I don’t want to
concentrate too hard. I know I ran fast times before. I just need to
do it again.”
Carroll predicted that for Jones to win the 400, she would have to run
the race in close to 59 seconds. The Searcy coach said one factor in
Jones’ favor is that she will be able to relax.
“That’s one thing that will help her is that the state meet is long,”
he said. “She’ll have time to rest between events, and recover from
race to race. The one disadvantage is that she’ll be running against
kids who run in one event.”
Jones agreed that the longer state meet will help her.
“I’ll need all the rest I can get,” she said. “It’ll give me time to
get fluids into my body.”
For her field events, Jones also will need to get off to a fast start.
She added that winning the long jump will depend on where she begins
“If you don’t hit the board,” she said, “you end up scratching (going
over the foul line). If you jump behind the line, you’re short.”
Her biggest challenge will come in the triple jump. Jones said winning
the event may come down to the second phase, the bound — an area in
which Jones admitted she needs work.
“I’m working on a 14-foot hop in the first phase,” she said. “In the
second phase, my bound isn’t very good. I need to get stronger and
work on my technique.”
Carroll said Jones should have a solid day today — and it’s all in her
“She’s got good genes from her mom and dad,” Carroll said. “Her
family’s a hard-working family. They’re full-blown workers.
“Whitney flat-out gets after it,” Carroll added. “She’s an exceptional
Jones will be joined in the meet by Searcy teammate Rachael Maina, who
will compete in the 800-meter run.
Carroll said Maina finished the event in 2 minutes, 50 seconds at the
AAAAA-East Conference meet — about 20 seconds behind the front
Carroll said he hopes Maina, who also plays soccer for Searcy,
finishes the 800-meter run in the top 10.
“When she runs in soccer,” Carroll said, “it’s more of a jig-jaggedy
run. It’s more of a start-stop type of running. Soccer doesn’t train
her to run the 800.
“Rachael’s in shape, don’t get me wrong,” Carroll added. “But most of
the girls she’ll be running against have been training just for that