Ex-Illini not playing Games

CHAMPAIGN – Next time Anthony Jones is in Sydney, Australia, he plans to let the U.S. Olympic Committee pick up the tab.

“When 2000 rolls around, I will be returning,” the former Illinois sprint standout and current Olympic aspirant vowed Saturday. “I’m definitely going to be on that team. I don’t care if I’m an alternate.”

Jones, in town for the Illini Twilight Meet, checked out the site of the next summer Olympics last year while on a track tour through Australia and New Zealand. And while in Sydney, the Danville native set foot in the Olympic track and field venue.

“I got to run on one of the tracks they’re going to use as warmup tracks,” Jones said. “Awesome.”

Jones has chased his Olympic dream since leaving the UI in 1994 as its record-holder in the 100 meters and outdoor 200. Jones, who still holds those marks, reached the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials but fell short of making the team.

“I was that close,” he said.

These days, the 1994 Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year trains in Johnson City, Tenn., where he works at a psychiatric hospital.

“They support me 100 percent,” said Jones, who has run a wind-aided 9.95 this spring in the 100. “(If) I need off, (they say) go and compete.”

He did this week, returning to his alma mater for a meet run in nippy and windy conditions. In the 100, Jones came in second in 10.44, holding back a bit during the race after feeling a twinge in his hamstring.

“When that happened, I said, ‘OK, you just need to maintain,’ ” he said.

When Jones later was assigned Lane 1 with its sharp curves for the 200, his reaction was understandable: “Oh, Lord.”

Still, he won in 21.32 without any more complaint from his hamstring.

“I’m glad to just get through this and the weather,” Jones said. “I kept telling myself, ‘Just stay focused. Go as well as you can regardless of the weather,’ because I may get a meet in Europe somewhere, and it’s going to be cold. It may be raining. It may be hot. My focus is so above that.”

Illini sophomore Sherman Armstrong turned his focus Saturday to the 110 hurdles, running an NCAA provisional qualifying time of 13.88. Armstrong also won the 400 hurdles in 51.99.

“Mr. Reliable,” UI coach Gary Wieneke said. “He’s always there.”

He was for the 4x100 relay, too. Babatunde Ridley, George McDonald-Ashford, Charles Burton and Armstrong ran the UI’s second-fastest time of the season, 40.47, in winning.

Scott McClennan was the UI men’s other winner, beating the 3,000 field in 8:26.21.

UI women’s shot putter Collinus Newsome closed her home career by winning with a season-best 52 feet, 6 3/4 inches.

“It’s good to see Collinus have kind of a breakthrough,” Illini coach Gary Winckler said. “It’s been almost two years since she was over 16 meters in the shot.”

His team’s other wins came from Camee Williams in the 100 hurdles (13.87) and Tara Mendozza in the 1,500 (4:38.4). Kerry Ann Richards (11.27) and Aleisha Latimer (11.40) each provisionally qualified in the 100 while placing second and third, respectively.

“It was nice to see them get untracked,” Winckler said. “We had probably the best field we’ve run against all year in the 100.”

Two Eastern Illinois women with area ties won: Centennial grad Keisha Dunlap in the hammer throw (159-5) and Hoopeston Area’s Marissa Bushue in the triple jump (38-4 3/4).

Comments

News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments