Is a Barbadian the next great Caribbean 400m runner?
From Herb McKenley to Kirani James, the history of the 400 metres at the NCAA Championship is filled with Caribbean glory. University of Texas coach Edrick Floreal has prepared Barbadian wonder boy Jonathan Jones to join a long line of triumphant...
From Herb McKenley to Kirani James, the history of the 400 metres at the NCAA Championship is filled with Caribbean glory. University of Texas coach Edrick Floreal has prepared Barbadian wonder boy Jonathan Jones to join a long line of triumphant regional runners at the NCAA Championships in the United States city of Eugene, Oregon.
Though he was second at the NCAA Indoors in the 800 metres, the compact Jones is undefeated outdoors in the 400m and won the recent Big 12 Conference in 44.43 seconds. Late in May, he outleaned Jamaican Jevaughn Powell to win the West Regional qualifying meet, 44.85 s to 44.87, a personal best for Powell.
The Barbadian’s third best time this year is 44.79 seconds.
“I think he has a fair chance to win,” Floreal told The Gleaner after the West Regionals, of Jones’ impending clash with defending NCAA champion Randolph Ross, who did 44.23 to win the East Regionals and SouthEastern Conference victor Champion Allison, whose best is 44.74, and Powell. “You have to remember if you have an 800m runner by trade, if you’re close with him with 200m to go, the advantage goes to the 800m runner by trade, not so much the 400m runner,” Floreal reasoned in reference to his charge’s excellent finish at the Big 12 meet.
“The race was fairly even at 200m because the wind was so strong on the backstretch and then the gap between 150m and the finish line, we opened up maybe 12 metres on those guys,” the coach recalled of the May 15 effort the Barbadian Olympic semi-finalist produced to run 44.43.
“You’re moving away from guys who ran 45 low at that kind of velocity. You have to sort of say this guy can finish the races, and he’s confident as well in his finish because of the 800m strength,” Floreal affirmed.
A 400m win for Jones would place him alongside Jamaicans McKenley, George Rhoden, Bert Cameron, Greg Haughton, Davian Clarke, Roxbert Martin, and Ricardo Chambers; Bahamians Avard Moncur and Andretti Bain; Trinidadian Deon Lendore; and Grenadian hero James as Caribbean champions in the event.
The 400m heats are set for Wednesday, June 8, with the final on June 10, and Ross, winner last year in 43.85 seconds for North Carolina A&T, will start as the favourite.
Rhoden and Cameron both won the title three times, with the former winning in 1950, 1951, and 1952 for Morgan State University, with the latter taking top spot in 1980, 1981, and 1983 for the University of Texas El Paso. James is the last Caribbean 400m man to win the NCAA title as he took first place in 2013 and 2014.