Clarksville, TN – Austin Peay State University track and field middle-distance runner Breigh Jones is ready for her sport’s biggest stage, as she heads to Eugene, OR this week for the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.Jones, the first Lady Gov to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championship since Sheena Gooding in 2001, will participle in the 400-meter run – with the semifinals to be held at Hayward Field on June 11th at 3:15pm (Central Time), with the finals scheduled for 4:00pm (CT) on June 13th.
“It’s definitely exciting and I really didn’t expect to be going to nationals this year,” Jones said. “So it’s definitely coming as a surprise, but I’m excited and ready to run.”
Looking at the times of the participating runners, the Memphis native has posted the 13th best time at 52.65 with the University of Texas’ Ashley Spencer being the top qualifier at 51.38.
“It’s a great feeling because you look at all the runners that are in the 400 and those who made the nationals overall you hear about the Florida’s, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, LSU, the big schools,” Jones said. “Here I’m in the top 20 (in the nation) and I think making it to nationals is being well received for Austin Peay track and field and I want to help make a name for Austin Peay and the future so they can bring in better athletes.”
It won’t only be big schools versus the small school in name only, as Jones will be one of – if not the smallest runners in the event – standing at 5-foot-1.
“I’m only 5-1 and usually the people that run the 400 (meters) are 5-6 and above,” she said. “I think I just have the perfect combination of speed and strength because it’s not just a speed run where you sprint the whole way.”
Jones qualified for the NCAA finals after finishing in seventh-place in the NCAA East Preliminaries last week, her second straight trip to the regionals.
“It can be kind of a culture shock when you first get there” said Jones of competing in the regionals. “Everything is in so much order. You have a check-in tent where you have to check-in a couple of hours before your event, so you have to go through a different process than you normally do for an event. I think having gone through that prior to this year was definitely an advantage for me. I didn’t have to worry about where I needed to go.”
“I think it’s completely different because in the Pan-Am Games you’re just running against people your own age,” Jones said. “So I don’t think you face as good a competition as you would in the NCAA’s.
“Here on the biggest stage you’re competing against the best in the whole United States. This is just going to be a really, really good experience and for me a big step and I’m just taking it one day at a time.”