10/26/13 — Jones wins third straight NCISAA 1A cross country state title

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Jones wins third straight NCISAA 1A cross country state title

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 26, 2013 11:40 PM

Connor Jones never entertained the thought of participating in a cross country meet.

He was convinced he couldn't run 3.1 miles.

But his friends talked him into trying it and once he crossed the finish line after his first race, the demanding and discipline-based sport soon became his passion.

That passion translated into a phenomenal career which ended with Jones claiming his third consecutive N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 1-A state championship on a breezy, cold Friday afternoon at scenic Hagan-Stone Park in Pleasant Garden.

The Wayne Christian senior ran the 5k course course in 17 minutes, 7.88 seconds. Just three days after winning his second straight Bill Kemp Invitational crown, Jones became the first-ever, three-time state champ in Eagles' athletics history.

"I was running to a place today and not too worried about the time I got," Jones said. "Crossing the finishing line was a relief, but it felt good."

Hickory Christian senior Andrew Tysinger finished nearly 19 1/2 seconds behind Jones. Trinity Academy freshman Christian Pigues, Shannon Forest sophomore Luke Horne and Hickory Christian senior Matt Lowry rounded out the top five.

Jones described the race as "pretty fast" on a course that had steep uphills and gradual downhills. He felt everyone ran slow at the start and once they entered the woods, he was determined not to fall behind or let anyone set the pace to push him.

"I just ran," Jones said. "The first little bit (of the race) I felt too good and was wondering if that adrenaline would leave me. (But) Tuesday's race had no affect on the outcome of the race today.

"Now I can say for the rest of whenever that I got it (the state title) three times."

Wayne Christian finished third as a team behind meet winner and three-time champ Hickory Christian, and Shannon Forest. Senior Spencer Foster complimented Jones with a 10th-place time of 18:53.56, while Austin Kornegay ended up 24th overall in 21:14.54.

The Eagles' Justin Graham, sophomore Thomas Donica and Chris Hill also competed in the field of 66 runners.

"The team did awesome," Jones said. "Most of the guys got personal records. We didn't get the second-place trophy, but we got third, which is respectable."