Jones uses gymnastics background on track

Crystal Jones has competed in eight events for the team this season.

Freshman Crystal Jones ties her shoes in preparation for a recent practice. | EVAN EASTERLING TTN

For an eight-year stretch, Crystal Jones began grooming herself for a track & field career by competing in gymnastics.

After moving on from gymnastics, Jones found she could transfer the flexibility she gained from the sport onto the track, which helped her compete in the high jump.

The Virginia native has used the experience to her advantage at Temple, competing in eight different events for the Owls this season.

Jones, who has competed in both track and field events, was the lone Owl at the Feb. 28  American Athletic Conference Championships in Birmingham, Alabama to compete in the pentathlon, claiming fifth place.

“Indoor season-wise, the pentathlon was the hardest because you’re doing all those events in one day,” Jones said. “For me, the biggest challenge was the 800 because it’s a lot longer.”

Jones’ best finish in the pentathlon was on the high jump, tying for the top spot with a height of five feet, 8.5 inches. She competed later in the meet in the open high jump, where she finished fourth.

“Anytime you can get a freshman to come in and score points for you in the conference meet, you’re doing very well,” coach Elvis Forde said. “She scored nine points and that is fantastic because I think that sets her up to believe she can score points as a freshman.”

Despite her high finish in the high jump, Forde said he sees potential for the freshman in many events.

“That is one of her strengths, but she can do so many other things that I don’t want to pin her down to any one event yet and say, ‘That’s her strong suit,’” Forde said. “She has also demonstrated an excellent set of skills in the 400-meter hurdles. She’s just multi-talented.”

Throughout the indoor season, Forde said Jones exceeded his expectations as a freshman, tallying 12 top ten performances, including her top places at conferences. Her nine points counted as nearly a fourth of the team’s total at championships.

With her first college track & field season behind her, Jones looks forward to improving for the outdoor season.

“I feel that indoor season went good for my first season, but now that I am getting used to college track and everything, I feel like outdoor season will be so much better,” Jones said.

Though Jones’ specialty is competing in the multis events, which is the pentathlon in indoor and the heptathlon in outdoor, she is going to focus on individual events this outdoor season.

In the first outdoor meet of the season, the March 19 Philadelphia College Classic at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field, Jones participated in the long jump, the 4×400 relay and the 400 hurdles, in which she took first place.

Jones admits the high jump isn’t the only event she does well in, but it’s her favorite.

“I just like how it is different from all the other events,” Jones said. “You’re like jumping backwards, basically. It’s a challenging event because you have to be flexible.”

While in Colonial Forge High School in Virginia, Jones won five state titles in indoor and outdoor high jump. Her first title came her freshman year.

Jones hopes to repeat her success by improving for the outdoor conference championships and reaching her goals.

“I’m excited for conferences because people usually do better during outdoor season and I feel like more people will come to outdoor conferences,” Jones said.

Maura Razanauskas can be reached at

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