Riley Jones made a bet with her father that if she won the 300-meter hurdles in the Region 6-7A championship, she could pick where they would go to dinner that night. What the recent South Forsyth graduate didn’t realize before the race was that she would have to beat her personal-best time by nearly four seconds.
That made the race the most memorable moment for Jones in her track and field career.
“The top four girls were all within a second, so it was definitely a really, really close race,” she said. "But I knew from the first 100 meters that I needed to get out really fast and that I needed to close the gap. Going into the last 200 meters, I really started accelerating. I just knew I had to put my all in. Once I crossed the finish line, I realized I won. It was very exciting and definitely my most memorable moment of high school all around."
Despite it being Jones' first season competing in the 300 hurdles, she excelled in the event, coming in first with a time of 47.21 seconds at the region championship. She was also crowned region champion in pole vault (11 feet, 6 inches). In earning the pair of victories, Jones accomplished her goal she had coming into her senior season of winning region titles in multiple events.
She also managed to secure back-to-back Forsyth County News Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year honors.
“It’s definitely rewarding," Jones said. "I’m really excited that I was able to get it my junior and my senior year to finish out strong."
Jones describes her season as a whirlwind of emotions.
“It’s my last high school season,” she said. "The weather was good to work with probably the hardest out of all four years. Especially with pole vault, it's really a weather-dependent event. I also got really heavy into 300-meter hurdles, which I've never done, so that also was really fun."
The excitement of track and field, the desire to win a state championship ring, and the level of competition of running at the D-I level kept Jones motivated to become the athlete she is today.
“My dream was to run track in college at the D-! level, where you got to work really hard and be at the top of your game," Jones said. "Not many people are able to run at the level I’m about to. It’s a really rewarding sport. All my friends are track athletes, so my life is all track and I just love it."
Jones plan on continuing her track and field career at East Carolina University, where she will study psychology
“I really hope to make it to the NCAA [championships] my freshman year for pole vault,” Jones said. "That's definitely my biggest goal. I’m actually trying out two new events, the 400-meter hurdles and javelin. That will be exciting."