The last time Akela Jones competed at a Big 12 track and field championship, she won titles in the long jump, high jump and 60-meter hurdles.
Understandably, she wants even more at the conference’s outdoor championships beginning Friday in Fort Worth.
“I want to put my name in the record books as one of the best athletes in the Big 12, if not the best athlete in the Big 12,” said Jones, a K-State standout. “This is going to be a big weekend for me. I want to follow my indoor form and put up phenomenal numbers.”
K-State track and field coach Cliff Rovelto has no problem with Jones speaking in such a confident matter.
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It was about this time a year ago that Jones burst onto the national scene by winning the heptathlon at the NCAA track and field championship. Since then, she has only gotten better.
“She has improved in everything,” Rovelto said. “There is not a single event or ability where she hasn’t improved from last year. She is stronger, she is faster, her stamina has improved. She has set new personal bests at all of her individual events. I anticipate she will have a really good weekend.”
It is also nice to hear Jones speak so passionately about taking part in an event that kicks off a string of prestigious competitions for her. On deck are trips to the NCAA championship, the Olympic Trials in her home country of Barbados and then the summer games in Brazil.
Some may expect Jones to overlook a Big 12 event with larger, more prestigious competitions on the horizon. But that is not the case for Jones.
“Since I was at the world championships last year, I am kind of chill about the Olympics,” Jones said. “I don’t see it as some big, big stage. I am excited because it is my first, but I am not so excited about it or nervous that I am already thinking about it. I am focused on this weekend and winning some more Big 12 championships.”
Jones will compete in five events over the next three days: high jump, long jump, 100-meter hurdles, 400 relay and the 1600 relay.
Her events will likely fluctuate between now and the Olympics, and so will her training demands.
She hopes to be in the best shape for the Rio games, and the journey starts with a final trip to the Big 12 outdoor championships.
“Every time I step on the track, it’s 100 percent,” Jones said. “I am going to go out there and try to win as many events as I can. Hopefully, my team can win a Big 12 championship, too. That would be the ultimate cherry on top.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett