Forde thinks freshman can break personal bests on the track

Lucy Jones set the school’s 3,000-meter steeplechase record last month.

Freshman distance runner Lucy Jones runs the 1,500-meter race on Friday at the Temple Sports Complex during the first Temple Owls Invite. | MIKE NGUYEN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Lucy Jones always wanted to run.

When the freshman distance runner was growing up in Leicester, England, she looked up to her older brother and sister as they’d compete in meets.

“I was going about and saying, ‘When can I run? When can I run?’” Jones said. “Around when I turned 12 or 13, I started to train seriously, and then the competitions came quickly after that. And the rest is history.”

At the Ole Miss Classic on March 31 in Oxford, Mississippi, Jones broke Temple’s school record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 10 minutes, 40.43 seconds. Jones broke the mark set by sophomore distance runner Grace Moore last season.

On Friday, Jones finished seventh out of 25 runners in the 1,500 during the Temple Owls Invite at the Temple Sports Complex.

“She’s done an excellent job this year,” coach Elvis Forde said. “When our coaching staff first came here, the records that were in place were not that difficult to break. In that sense, it didn’t surprise me that she broke it, but it’s still an excellent accomplishment that she currently has. We want to put some tough records on the board, and as we do that, our program will get much better.”

Temple started recruiting Jones in December 2016 when cross country coach and assistant track and field coach James Snyder attended the European Cross Country Championships to see her compete.

Jones did some research on the program and had a conversation with Snyder about it. Jones also spoke to sophomore distance runner Millie Howard, another England native, about the program.

Philadelphia and Temple “just had everything” she wanted, Jones said.

Forde said Jones had to adjust to how the culture, academics and athletic systems in the United States differ from those in England.

From a young age, athletes in England compete more often for athletic clubs than they do for their schools, Jones said. She added that they’re treated like professionals because of the amount of training that goes into competitions.

“In countries other than the U.S., you train a lot more, and you compete a lot less,” Forde said. “Since she’s been here, she’s probably competed much more than she did in two or three years in England.”

Jones agrees that she has competed more this season than in past years, but she doesn’t think this has greatly affected her.

“I feel that I have an advantage though because athletics back home is very serious from a very young age, I came in already having competed at a high level,” Jones said. “So it didn’t faze me as much as the coaches maybe thought it would.”

Forde still expects more from Jones this year as the Penn Relays, American Athletic Conference championships and NCAA regional championships remain on the schedule.

“We believe that she can lower her personal best again, but she’ll be in competition with some of the other girls on the team as well,” Forde said. “She still has to fight with Grace Moore and [senior distance runner] Katie Pinson in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, because we expect good competition from those girls in that event. If she really wants to be the record-holder, she’s got to compete for it.”

Jones has several goals she wants to achieve before the end of the season, she said.

“A good performance at conferences with a medal would be great,” she added. “I have all my sights set on being able to run at the regional meet. I haven’t yet run a good enough time, but I’m not panicking about it.”

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