CLAREMONT, Calif. – "Our motto this year was a quote by St. Francis," said Franciscan University's head track and field coach Vince Oliver. "'Brothers and sisters: Let us begin for up until now we have done nothing.' So I looked at Bill (Jones) before the race and said, 'let us begin.'" Jones went on to place 15th in the nation at the 2012 NCAA Div. III Outdoor Track and Field Championship on Thursday, May 24.
"The moment that I realized Bill qualified for the national race, it was pretty overwhelming," recalled Coach Oliver. "It made me realize what we've done as a team—as a family—to get to where we are now so quickly."
Jones entered the national championship seeded ninth overall. He qualified for the 10K competition at the 2012 Spark Adams Invitational at Baldwin-Wallace College on April 21 with a time of 30:00.82, over a full minute ahead of the second place finisher.
That was the only other time Jones ran the 10K this season.
"If he had gotten that time again, he would have won the national championship," said Oliver. "But the race overall was very slow."
Jones finished 15th with a time of 31:54.26. Lee Berube from SUNY Geneseo won the event with a time of 30:40.27.
"The race started out slow with all the runners jockeying for a position," Oliver said. "That expends a lot of energy. About halfway through, Bill hit his wall—he knew it and we knew it. He may not have run the race he planned only because of how the rest of the pack ran.
"We were confident that he could duplicate his Baldwin-Wallace performance, but sometimes your strategy changes when you're in a pack of guys focusing on the same goal as you," he added.
Despite a performance that didn't peak as high as Jones would have liked, the moment was still a proud one as he notched another history-making moment for Franciscan University Athletics.
"We kept telling him, 'Bill, you are 15th in the country!'" said Oliver. "So many people have tried to reach the national stage and haven't. And here he is, with another year to do this again … Bill was as prepared as he could possibly be."
Coach Oliver didn't hesitate to acknowledge where that preparation came from. "Coach Schreck, Coach Kuebler, and Coach McKeegan have been Bill's guiding light in developing his strategy and workout–they deserve the credit," he noted.
So what is in store for 2013? The St. Francis motto will live on. "After the race I said to Bill, 'Up until now we've done nothing,' and he knew what I meant," Oliver said. "Bill is going into his senior year and will continue to be that leader who inspires us all on the track. We will continue to persevere and move forward to come back here again."