PUEBLO, Colo. — Abilene Christian’s Nick Jones won his fourth title in convincing fashion Friday at the DeRose ThunderBowl.
He had the three longest throws in the competition and finished with a best of 196 feet, 1 inch, to become only the third man in Division II outdoor track and field history to win his event four times — and the first in the discus.
“That’s why you compete — to win,” he said. “Winning four championships in the same event for a coach and athlete is like a dream come true. It means so much to me, coach (Jerrod) Cook and the school.”
The 22-year-old senior from Amarillo Tascosa, who is also top-seeded in the shot put here Saturday, grabbed the lead in the second round with his 196-1 and was never seriously threatened. He also had throws of 193-1 in the fourth round and 195-1 in round five.
The Wildcats, hoping to repeat a title they won last year in Turlock, Calif., stand in second place with 26 points after seven of 21 events. Western State, Colo., leads with 38, and just behind the Wildcats are two teams with 18 points each, Central Missouri and Adams State, Colo.
The only other two men in NCAA Division II history with four titles in one event are former Wildcat Freddie Williams in the 800 meters in 1984-85-86-87 and Central Missouri’s Vladimir Golias in the steeplechase in 1998-99-00-01.
Jones also won discus titles in 2008 (187-0) as a freshman in Walnut, Calif., 2009 (182-1) as a sophomore in San Angelo, and last year (199-4) in Turlock, Calif., after a redshirt season in 2010.
Jones opened with 173-11 here Friday and was in fourth place before his second effort.
“Anything can happen at the national meet,” Jones said. “You just have to have faith in the training we have done. We got here Sunday, and I sat around five days just thinking about it – fighting those negative thoughts, trying to stay positive.”
He admitted to being nervous and feeling “tons of pressure” – even in the finals after he had taken the lead. “All those guys can throw big,” he said. “I knew they had it in them. I didn’t try to force it. It was such a great atmosphere. I couldn’t believe I had won. I was just happy and having fun.”
Jones remembered a three-foul performance at Texas-Arlington March 24 to miss the finals in that meet earlier this season. Of his first throw Friday, he said, “I definitely wanted to just get a mark, one that would get me in the finals.
“I was a little more relaxed on my second throw,” he continued. “I just tried to up the tempo, drive and build power with my right leg.”
It was a 1-2-3 finish for the Lone Star Conference in the discus with William Griffin of Texas A&M-Kingsville (187-5 on his final throw) and Servell Dandridge of West Texas A&M (185-5) trailing Jones.
Jones, who also has four LSC titles in the discus, is a provisional qualifier for the U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., June 22-July 1 in both the discus and shot put