Written by Gabriel Huff // Photo provided by Harding Track & Field
Amid a record-breaking season for the Harding track and field team, sophomore Antiwain Jones became the first Harding student to clear 7 feet outdoors in the high jump earlier this month at the Harding Open, breaking a 47-year-old record.
Jones woke up April 6 hoping he would set a new high jump record that day. Before the track meet commenced, he had the opportunity to talk with event official Steve Celsor, the man responsible for setting the record at 6 feet, 11 inches in 1976. His daughter Kristen Celsor currently holds the high jump record for the women’s team at 5 feet, 8 inches, set in 2013, according to her father.
“I talked to him a little bit before the meet, and he was like, ‘Will today be the day?’” Jones said. “And it ended up being the day.”
Jones first cleared 2.16 meters to top his personal best, but his teammates were not satisfied. They encouraged him to go for 2.18 (7 feet, 1.75 inches), the record. He only received three attempts, missing the first two.
“And then my last jump, I cleared it, and it was really exciting,” Jones said.
Celsor said he was the first person to meet Jones to give him a hug.
“It was pretty cool,” Celsor, who graduated from the University in 1977 with a degree in nursing, said. “And he’s got a lot left. I think he can break his own record. I think he’s talented enough to do that.”
The following week, Jones was named the Great American Conference (GAC) Men’s Field Athlete of the Week. His efforts established a conference record and ranked him second in the NCAA Division II this season, according to the Harding Sports Network.
Assistant track and field coach Odaine Lewis recognized the challenges Jones faced as the only male high jumper on the team to obtain his current status.
“It’s kind of hard for him going up there each and every day, training by himself, because he’s a lone high jumper,” Lewis said.
Lewis, who began his role last fall, said he believes Jones has more to accomplish.
“I think Antiwain has the potential to be a national champion,” Lewis said. “Right now I think he’s on the pace of breaking the school record again.”
Senior teammate Dakarai Bush said he knew Jones was going to break the record.
“He’s a great guy, and I hope to see him at nationals, and I hope he wins,” Bush said.
According to the United States Track and Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association, Harding men’s outdoor track and field currently ranks 11th in the NCAA Division II national rankings. The GAC Championship is set for May 4-6.
Jones has his next target in sight.
“To get All-American at nationals,” Jones said.