Top 10 of the D1 Era - No. 7: Jonathan Jones

Senior thrower goes from Division III to an All-American

By TOM DINKI
On April 24, 2014

  • Senior Jonathan Jones has won three MAC Championships and been named an All-American in less than two full seasons in Buffalo. Courtesy of UB Athletics

Jonathan Jones played third base for Portville High School, where he would routinely toss a quarter-pound baseball about 20 meters away to his shortstop. In college, Jones now hurls a 16-pound shot put ball more than 60 meters with similar ease.

In fewer than two full seasons at UB, Jones, a senior thrower for the track and field team, has been named an All-American, captured three Mid-American Conference Championships in the shot put and holds the program record in indoor and outdoor shot put.

"I dreamed about it but I didn't think I'd be this good this quick," Jones said. "I didn't expect it to happen like it did."

Three years ago, Jones was not competing in Division I track and field. Jones attended Buffalo State College's Division III track and field program after graduating high school. Jones wanted to attend UB, but he was unable to due to grades. Jim Garnham, Buffalo's track and field assistant coach, told Jones to go to Buffalo State College for a year in order to get his grades up and then transfer to UB.

Jones did exactly that.

After competing for Buffalo State College in his freshman year and sitting out the next season due to transfer rules, Jones began his decorated UB career in 2012. He won the MAC Championship in the outdoor and indoor shot put his junior season and was named a First-Team All-American for the outdoor season after coming in fourth place in the shot put at the 2013 Outdoor NCAA Championships.

At the 2013 nationals, Jones said he did well at trials and sat down inside the tent after throwing, believing he missed the cut for finals. After stepping outside to watch the second flight of throwers, Jones learned he had just made the cut. The top nine throwers go to finals; Jones was No. 9.

"I didn't expect to get into the finals but somehow I weaseled in," Jones said. "I walked out to see how the second flight was doing and one of the coaches I knew from Purdue was like, 'Hey, you better get down there and get ready and warmed up. You made finals.' I was like, 'What?' I sprinted over, got warmed up and then I made it in."

From there, Jones came in fourth place in the shot put, earning him All-American honors.

This season, Jones came in 12th place in the outdoor nationals for the shot put and won the MAC title for the indoor shot put. At the UB Open at UB Stadium on April 18, Jones broke the school record for distance in the outdoor shot put with a throw of 65'02.25" (19.87m), surpassing former Bull Rob Rolabek's mark.

Inspiration and encouragement from Garnham assured Jones he could succeed at the Division I level.

"Coach Garnham pretty much told me I could [compete at the Division I level]," Jones said. "He put it in my head I could be a Division I athlete and do good at it so he kind of sparked that in me and pushed me on my way pretty much."

Jones has the chance to set more records and acquire more accolades this year when he competes in the outdoor MAC Championships in Athens, Ohio May 15 and 16. Jones is also vying for a spot in the 2014 outdoor NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. beginning June 11.

email: sports@ubspectrum.com


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