From court to track, Jones excels

Eastern New Mexico University sophomore Alesha Jones, who set Eastern New Mexico University's record in the women's 800 meters this spring, started her college athletic career as a basketball player.

Courtesy photo: ENMU Athletics

Alesha Jones is one of a half-dozen athletes expected to contend for a medal in this week's Lone Star Conference Track and Field Championships.

The Willcox, Ariz., native grew up with basketball as her first love, although she also competed in cross country and track in high school.

Her first stop after high school was Eastern Arizona College to play basketball. After a decent freshman season, she watched her minutes dwindle and suddenly felt a change of heart.

"I was discouraged from playing basketball, but I still wanted to be a student-athlete," said Jones, who arrived at Eastern in the fall 2011.

She has competed in cross country and track the past two years — she finished fourth in the 3,000 meters steeplechase at the Lone Star Conference meet.

She appears to have found her calling in the 800.

Jones has shaved nearly five seconds off the previous school record this season. The current mark sits two minutes and 13.28 seconds, which she set while winning at West Texas A&M on April 13. The old record was 2:18.11 set by teammate Sabrina Huelga last season.

She has the fourth fastest time heading into the three-day LSC meet, which starts today in Canyon, Texas,

She first got a taste of success in the 800 in high school. In won her first race and would place fourth at state that year, despite never training for that event.

"I was very nervous, and I felt I had something to prove since I came from basketball," Jones said of her first track practice.

Her goal before the end of the season is to record a 2:09:00, which would automatically qualify her for the NCAA Division II championships.

First-year ENMU coach Mike Barbee said based on what he saw at practice, with her great foot speed and good endurance, he felt like she would be successful in the 800. "She's is a great kid with a tremendous work ethic."

Jones maintains herself by staying away from junk food during season, staying hydrated, and getting plenty of sleep. She balances a schedule of track practice, a full load of classes, and an on-campus job

A communicative disorder major, she plans on at least staying in Portales long enough to get her master's degree in speech language pathology.

"I like Portales. It has really friendly residents and is a small town, which I am used to," Jones said.

Abilene Christian is the reigning LSC men's champion with 19 straight titles, while Angelo State has won the last four championships on the women's side.

Other ENMU athletes expected to contend for a medal at the meet include:

  • Sophomore Kaspars Briska in the 5,000 meters (2nd, 14:523.09) and 3,000 steeplechase (2nd, 9:04.71)
  • Junior Kevin Roa in the 10,000 meters (1st, 31.55.65)
  • Freshman Michael Moore in the high jump (3rd, 19-6)
  • Sophomore Kris-Ann Walters in the long jump (4th, 6-6)
  • Freshman Laura Grube in the javelin (4th, 134-5)

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