By Tom Robinson, NEPASportsNation.com
MOSCOW – All around the state, track and field athletes began preparation for the 2020 season with aspirations of winding up at Shippensburg University for the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Championships.
Elk Lake’s Krista Jones was among the select group for which such an appearance was practically a given.
Before practice could give way to competition, however, the entire season was canceled because of the pandemic and nobody made the trip to Shippensburg to be measured among the best of the Pennsylvania’s athletes in the sport.
“You never realize how important or big something is to your life until you can’t do it anymore,” said Jones, who is making her second trip to the state track championships, but a year later than planned. “So, it was great to just get back to doing it.”
The junior distance runner trained all through what would have been her sophomore track season, returned to competition in cross country in the fall, then secured her return to Shippensburg by winning the District 2 Class 2A girls 1600-meter run title May 17 at North Pocono.
Jones makes her way to the PIAA Championships in a different event. Back in 2019, in the spring of her freshman year, she qualified as a second-place finisher in the 3200 run, then placed 15th in the state.
For her return in Friday’s Class 2A portion of the championships, Jones is seeded 14th out of 25 entries, based on times put up in district meets, even though the race at North Pocono did not follow her game plan.
Confident in the endurance she has built as a three-time state qualifier, two-time state medalist and two-time district champion in cross country, Jones went in comfortable to let somebody else set the pace.
The early stages of the race, however, were not run as fast as Jones had hoped and she found herself in front at the midway point and anxious to pick up that pace.
“It was a bit slower than I planned to go, so I decided to break away,” said Jones, also one of the top players in Lackawanna League Division 4 girls basketball where she is already a two-time, first-team division all-star, according to NEPABasketball.com.
Stretching her lead from 1.5 to 7.9 seconds in the third of four laps, Jones went on to win in 5:18.78.
Jones followed older siblings Luke, Kenzie, Keri and Peyton in becoming leaders of Elk Lake’s prestigious distance running program that has produced multiple state championships. She showed her potential in competing against the best in the state when she placed fourth in Class 2A state cross country as a sophomore, part of a year-round performance that led the Susquehanna County Transcript to select her as her county’s Athlete of the Year for 2019.
After a 2020 lacking in track and field competition, Jones is eager to show what she can do in 2021.