Cougar Challenge: Sick, Jones still wins easily

Not even a cold can keep Bona Jones from getting faster.

Jones, Estero High’s phenom distance runner, plowed through a head cold to post her personal best time in the 3,200-meter run and leave the field far behind at Friday’s Cougar Challenge at Barron Collier High School.

Jones caught her cold this past weekend at a track meet at North Carolina State University, the school which recently gave her a scholarship. But no one could catch her Friday. She crossed the finish line at 10 minutes, 30.35 seconds, nearly a minute and 12 seconds faster than the next closest runner, who also happened to be the only one Jones didn’t lap.

After dominating cross country — she’s the two-time Naples Daily News Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year and the 2005 Class 2A state champion — she’s set her sights on a state track title, especially now that she’s become more comfortable with it.

“I definitely think it’s better this year,” she said. “Last year, I still wasn’t adjusted to running track, but this year is a lot better.”

Gulf Coast High picked up a couple of Cougar Challenge gold medals as well. Cort Hartz won the boys shot put, outdistancing second place by a full seven feet. And girls pole vaulter Annie Greco continued her standout career with a 9-foot, 6-inch vault for first place.

Greco consistently hits 10 feet in competition and wants to clear 10 feet, 6 inches, but the senior still is getting used to an ankle brace she needs to support a sprain. Some may say rest is the best solution to her ankle problem, but for Greco, that’s not in the cards for her senior season.

“I don’t plan on jumping in college,” she said. “This is it, so I don’t want to rest my senior year.”

Barron Collier junior Matt Clements, in his inaugural track season, made school history by blistering the competition in his preliminary heat of the 400-meter dash. Clements crossed the finish line in 49.06 seconds, a half-second faster than the school record.

“I felt like I was running slower than usual,” Clements said. “But Coach (Matt Keraus) said (North Fort Myers’ Noe Pena) would run with me, so I felt I had to get out fast.”

Cougar Challenge -- Friday’s Finals

Boys

Long jump: 1. Davis (CL) 21-8, 2. Lewis (NFM), 3. Jackson (NFM); High jump: 1. Davis (CL) 6-6, 2. Clements (BC), 3. Benetiz (GC); Shot put: 1. Hartz (GC) 50-8, 2. Louzao (CC), 3. Tassara (BC); 3,200-meter run: 1. Pena (NFM) 9:55, 2. Merino (BC), 3. Carufe (CS)

Girls

Long jump: 1. Brown (CL) 16-5, 2. Larson (PC), 3. Ray (BC); Pole vault: 1. Greco (GC) 9-6, 2. Rachel (FM), 3. Dorman (PC); Discus: 1. Lewis (CC) 101-7, 2. Zampell (BC), 3. Kent (CS); 3,200-meter run: 1. Jones (EST) 10:30.35, 2. Dickson (PC), 3. Bickwermert (N)

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