By David Fong
DAYTON — Just a few days before the biggest meet of his final year at Troy High School, Stephen Jones wasn’t sure he’d be able to compete.
“It was a legit consideration,” said Jones, who was hit by a combination of illness and allergies several days before Friday’s Division I regional meet at Welcome Stadium. “It was definitely the worst-case scenario, that I wouldn’t be able to run. I wasn’t able to get out of bed for three days.”
Jones — still hampered by the illness he’d been battling — gutted it out, however, running the 3,200 in 9:23.00, good enough for second place and a third-straight trip to next week’s state meet. Lakota East’s Dustin Horter won the event in 9:19.23.
“I was able to go out for a run (Thursday),” Jones said. “I went out later at night and was able to run a mile in 5-flat. I figured if I was able to do that on the road, I should be able to run in this meet.”
While Jones is headed to state for a third and final time, he’ll be looking to place for the first time. Last year he was running with the leaders late in the meet when he was tripped by a fellow competitor, falling to the ground and out of contention for a spot on the podium.
“Hopefully the third time’s a charm,” he said. “I’d love to be able to redeem myself a little bit after what happened last year. I’d also love to break 9 minutes — that’s been my goal all year and is still my goal. If I can do that, I should be OK. It’s going to be a great race; I’m not just going up against some of the best guys in the Ohio, but some of the best distance runners in the nation.”
• Poynter takes second
Tippecanoe’s Mitchell Poynter technically graduated from high school last week, but he continues to represent his high school … and will do so for one more week.
Poynter placed second in the 1,600 at the Division I regional meet Friday at Welcome Stadium, good enough to earn him a trip to next week’s state meet. Beavercreek’s Benjamin Ewert won the event in 4:17.36.
“It’s crazy that I’ve graduated but get to keep racing,” Poynter said. “It’s nice to be able to focus only on running and a relief that I don’t have to also worry about school anymore. It’s fun to be able to just come out here and race.”
Still, though, Poynter said he was nervous heading into Friday’s race.
“It feels so good to be going back to state,” he said. “It’s such a relief. I was definitely nervous going into (Friday).”
• Trojans make the podium
Several other Trojan competitors placed in the top eight at Friday’s meet; the top four in each event move on to state.
Sophomore Zach Boyer placed sixth in the 110 hurdles (15.14 seconds). The 4×200 team of Jayden Culp-Bishop, Hayata Nagata, Austin Jacobs and DeMarcus Moody also placed sixth (1:30.13).
Travis Hall placed seventh in the shot put with a throw of 50-3, a personal record.
Culp-Bishop also placed eighth in the 200 (22.59 seconds).
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong