Trent Jones stood out as a freshman on the track in 2019.
And when COVID-19 canceled his sophomore season last spring, he went straight work to prepare for his final two years as a Southmont athlete.
He took his raw athletic ability — mixed it with hard work — and became one of the area’s top athletes.
On the track this spring Jones swept the 100, 200, 400, and long jump at both the Montgomery County and Sagamore Conference meets. He qualified for the regional in the 200 an 400 and placed 11th at the state finals in the 400 meter dash.
Jones is the 2021 Journal Review Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
“I was so upset losing my season,” Jones said of his sophomore season in 2020. “But I knew there was nothing I could do about it. The only thing I could do was to stay in shape for the next season and be in as good of shape as I could be.”
Seeking proper endurance became his primary goal.
“My workouts involved a lot of maintaining my endurance,” he said. “Losing endurance is the worst thing you can do. But I also worked on my fast twitch and starts and stuff like that.”
Jones opened his own eyes with mild success as a freshman, but this season he turned in one of the best seasons any local track athlete has in the last decade.
At the county meet, Jones set a county meet record with a winning time of 11.12 seconds in the 100 meter dash and broke the record in the 400 meter run with a time of 50.26 seconds. The junior also won the 200 in 22.98 seconds and the long jump with an effort of 20-feet-6.75-inches.
The SAC meet was the same story.
A total dominance by Jones.
He won the 100 meter dash in 11.13 seconds, the 200 in 22.4 seconds, and the 400 with a meet record time of 49.77 seconds. He jumped over 22 feet on his way to a win in the long jump.
“Competing in four events can be taxing on an athlete, but being successful in four events takes a special athlete,” Southmont track and field coach Desson Hannum said. “Trent is a special athlete that we asked a lot from this season. We knew that he could be successful in each event and his focus and work ethic in practice gave us confidence in him.”
Competing in four individual events was ultimately Jones’ decision.
“I knew I could do it,” he said. “I definitely had to conserve my energy, which meant not going as hard in the trials. It definitely taught me that I needed more endurance, because if I want to do well in everything I’ve got to build up more endurance for that.”
And he did so successfully with preparation and hard work.
“As a freshman, Trent depended a lot on his natural gifts and athleticism,” Hannum said. “But as a junior he was much more mature as an athlete. Where you noticed this the most was his pre-meet preparation. He took more ownership for his own training and performance in practice and in meets.”
After two seasons of football, Jones made the decision to focus on swimming and track. Not only did he enter his junior seasons healthy, but he was able to stay in shape while playing tennis last fall.
It paid off with a state finals berth in swimming and followed with a state finals appearance in track and field.
At the sectional, Jones was second in the 200 meter dash in 22.47 seconds and second in the 400 in 49.69 seconds. In the regional, Jones finished fourth in the 400 with an automatic state qualifying time of 48.88 seconds — eventually finishing 11th in the state overall at the state finals with a time of 49.89 seconds.
The outlook on his potential has also now changed for Jones.
“Obviously my goal PRs have changed a lot, but this season also showed me what I can do by the end of high school and it’s also opened my eyes to different opportunities as far as college goes,” he said.
The goal remains the same though.
Jones wants to reach the podium at the state finals and climb as high as possible. And he knows it’s possible with the work he’s willing to put in, and the support he has behind him.
“I’ve always just been happy to be out here on the track and then the success that went along with it made it even better, and just made me proud to represent Southmont,” he said. “I just wanted to thank everyone who came out and watched me the whole season. Who were encouraging me, congratulating me and it really meant a lot and it also fueled my fire to continue to run my best.”