By Clay Whittington

The Belton Journal

AUSTIN – Kendrick Jones Jr. has a goal he wants to achieve, and he is half way there.

Last year, Lake Belton’s standout sprinter made an impact as a freshman, advancing all the way to the University Interscholastic League Class 5A Track & Field State Meet, where he emerged as the 200-meter state champion in his debut.

Instantly, Jones knew he wanted to achieve the feat again, and on Friday, he did.

Competing at Mike A. Myers Stadium, Jones defended his championship in the event, recording a time of 20.83 to collect another gold medal.

Now, he intends to finish his high school career by winning the race two more times, and while accomplishing the task will be difficult, Jones is embracing the challenge.

“I feel (the pressure) a little bit,” said Jones, who entered the event as the field’s second seed. “I have a lot of great competition, and I know I didn’t have the fastest time coming into the event, so I knew that I had to push it.

“But my goal is to win the event four straight times, so I went out and did it. Now, I’ve got two, and I need two more.”

Jones exploded off the starting block and was in command for a majority of the race, producing the field’s only sub-21.0 time to beat out Magnolia senior Blake Holland and Granbury junior Elijah Johnston, who had times of 21.15 and 21.22, respectively, to round out the event’s medalists.

That was only one highlight from Jones’ day, though.

Approximately eight hours earlier, he collected his first state championship in a field event, winning the long jump with a mark of 23 feet, 0 inches.

Two years ago, his older sister Ayanna Jones earned a gold medal in the same event as a senior at Belton, becoming the Lady Tigers’ first athlete to become a state champion, and he admitted her performance was part of his motivation.

“She was the reason I wanted to win again,” Jones said. “I knew if I lost today, she was going to brag about it. I just kept thinking about that.

“Now, we both have a gold medal in the long jump, so that feels pretty good.”

Jones’ first attempt measured 22-10, which would have won the event and was only rivaled by Frisco Heritage senior Jaxon Miller, who delivered a second-place leap of 22-7 on his third try.

“I was the first jumper,” Jones said, “so I knew I had to set the tone. That kind of helped. It was good to start like that, because once we got to our second jumps, I saw everybody was getting around 18 to 21 feet.

“So, I knew that was a pretty good jump for these conditions.”

Red Oak senior Kameron Franklin was third (22-6½).

The state title caps off an unblemished postseason run for Jones, who won the District 22-5A championship with a leap of 23-8 before clearing 24-5 to place first at the area meet. Then, with a mark of 23-2, he earned the Region III title.

He had an equally impressive trek to the 200 championship, recording winning times of 21.41, 21.11 and 21.04 at the district, area and regional meets, respectively.

“I’m not surprised by all the success I’ve had so far,” Jones said. “I knew I was capable of this.”


Lake Belton pole vaulter Abigail Rydberg also competed at the state meet. She was seventh with a height of 11-6.