Bill Jones Heads to the National Championship

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – Bill Jones is at again. The junior runner for Franciscan University made school history this past fall, becoming the first student-athlete to compete at the national postseason level. Now Jones is headed Claremont, Calif., to compete in the 10K run at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship this Thursday.

"Bill (Jones) is a natural, but he also works his tail off," said head coach Vince Oliver. "He leads the track and field team through example and work ethic, as well as character and faith. It is exciting to see the plans we've laid out for him really paying off."

Jones is seeded ninth overall for the championship with what Oliver considers "a very solid chance of achieving All-American status."

Jones is also ranked 28th in the nation in Div. III for the 5K, as well as 41st in the 1,500-meter run. These standings make him eligible of the Elite 89 Award, an honor presented to the student-athlete with highest cumulative grade point average competing at the final site for each of the 89 NCAA championships.

"The other student-athletes pick up on his energy and begin to work like he does," noted Oliver. "They watch him do his thing on the track, but they also see him excel in the classroom … It shows them that it is all possible with some planning, dedication, and organization."

On May 17-18, Jones competed with three of his fellow teammates at the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference championship in the 4x800 relay, and individually in the 1,500-meter run. The relay team—Jones, Morgan Gilcrest, Peter Schreck, and Jack Kaiser—set a new school record of 8:02.77. Jones placed ninth overall in the 1,500 meter run with a school record of 3:53.65.

"Bill's time at the ECACs was a personal best and among the nation's top 50 best times in Div. III," said distance coach Dr. Alan Schreck. "He said that his 1,500-meter race felt almost effortless … His confidence is very high for his 10K on Thursday night in California." 

"He is setting the bar high," added Oliver. "It says to the team that reaching the top of the mountain is a realistic accomplishment. Make no mistake, there are no shortcuts. It takes dedication on the part of the student-athlete and the coaching staff to lay out the plans. I have no doubt in my mind that Bill will continue to develop as long as he continues to work the way he has and follows the plan in place for success."

"Bill lives the Franciscan mission statement as a student-athlete," said Chris Ledyard, director of Athletics. "He has demonstrated what 'ongoing conversion' means in the mind, body, and spirit through his faithfulness to personal growth."

Turner Sports will stream the NCAA championship live beginning at 4 p.m. PST on Thursday, May 24. Events taking place on May 25 will stream live beginning at 5 p.m. PST, and the championship's final day of events, May 26, will also stream live beginning at 1:45 p.m. PST. To access the live stream, visit www.ncaa.com.

Jones is currently scheduled to compete Thursday evening, May 24, at 7:05 p.m. PST/10:05 EST.

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