JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – CJ Jones has been targeting that state 800-meter run record for years, and it continued to elude him at his final MSHSAA championship meet.
Jones, a senior at Cardinal Ritter, has been the state’s best half miler for four years, but after adding the 400-meter dash to his final trip to Dwight T. Reed Stadium, the task proved to remain just out of reach.
Jones established the Class 3 record of 1:49.96 as a sophomore, and he came back and won it with a 1:50.33 despite battling injury as a junior. Shortly after breaking his Class 3 record in the 400 set during prelims (47.11) with a 47.01, Jones returned to the track and blazed a 1:50.98.
“If I had pushed I could’ve gone sub 1:50, but I got sick before that one. I was over there throwing up bad before the race,” said Jones, who said the 400 had taxed him more than he anticipated. “That was like the second time I ever threw up. I’m really excited with that time after running a 47.0 400. It was an accomplishment going 1:50 after running that hard 400-meter dash. I’m satisfied with that race. It’s nothing to hold my head down about.”
When Jones added the 400 to his state slate for the first time since his freshman year, he targeted that record too. And when he missed the overall record of 46.81 during his prelim run, he immediately said he would chase it again on Saturday in the event finals.
Moments before Jones’ 400 finals, Hazelwood Central’s Marcus Davis dropped a 47.07. Jones took it as a signal for what he needed to do.
“That’s our thing. Whenever we have a meet together, we’ve been doing since we were little, somehow he always ends up in the heat before me,” Jones said. “I tell him to go run a fast time and I’ll drop what he runs. He usually pops it off and I finish it. That’s like my brother. We motivate each other.”
Davis added, “We’re summer track buddies, and he says when I do well he does well. So I was hoping to do well to maybe pump him up to break the record. It was fun to go 47-low just like him.”
Jones final race of his high school career was one more lap around the track as the anchor of the 1,600-meter relay, and there was no chance anyone was going to get to the finish line before him.
“Even if it means throwing up again, I have to go out on top,” Jones said.
He was pushed more than he probably expected by Liberty North’s Andrew Madison and had to drop a split of 46.81 to give the Lions the relay title in 3:19.98.
An exhausted Jones had to nearly be propped up atop the medal podium, and his high school career came to an end.
“It doesn’t feel real,” Jones said.