Owen's Jones looks to break school XC record

Karrigan Monk
Black Mountain News
Owen senior Elijah Jones is looking to break the school cross country record.

Owen High School senior Elijah Jones is on his way to breaking a school record.

The cross country runner broke the 16 minute mark at the Sept. 13 Watermelon Run in Cullowhee. He won the race with a time of 15:52.10, the second fastest in Owen history. He said he is looking to break Brandon Pung's record from 2005.

"I'm really determined to get that first spot because it's been something I've been thinking about for the past year," Jones said. "I think I can really do it, but I've just got to have good conditions. I've got to have a good course, a good day."

Head coach Bob Sadlemire said Jones is a great runner who is improving. He even thinks Jones could be the 2A state champion.

"Whether he does it or not, we'll see," Sadlemire said. "Right now, he's beaten the competition that last year beat him. He's just gotten so much better."

Even if he does not break the school record in cross country, Jones said he will look to break a school record in the spring when he runs track. He said track is fairer because the conditions are always the same, whereas each cross country course is different.

Jones started wrestling and running cross country at the same time in middle school, though he gave up running for a few years before picking it up again the summer before his freshman year of high school.

"I've grown to really like the sport and fully be devoted to it," Jones said. "In the beginning I started because I thought I could make friends, I thought it might seem kind of fun. But now it really seems like more of a family. It's not just about the fun part. It is fun, but it's also about the competition is something that's really fun for me. I look at it in a different way."

He said he would not be where he is today without the teammates and friends he met along the way, some of whom have now graduated.

Jones leads a strong team as the captain. According to Sadlemire, the team is racing against 3A and 4A schools, though the school itself is classified as 2A. Despite this, Sadlemire said they are holding their own and winning races.

Last year the Warhorses finished third in the state in their division, beaten only by Lincoln Charter and Brevard. As of right now, they are ranked second behind Lincoln Charter.

Sadlemire is confident the team will be conference champions, marking the fifth year in a row for the accomplishment. His goal is to get to state and win. If they qualify for the meet, this will be the fourth out of the past five years they make an appearance.

"Right now we're a little behind so we're making some adjustments to try to see if we can't get good enough to win the state meet," Sadlemire said. "My hope is that we win state meet."