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Unfinished Business: Otis Jones is Determined to Make Every Rep Count
Track and Field  . 

Unfinished Business: Otis Jones is Determined to Make Every Rep Count

by Brad Muller, Director of Content

Having already earned his degree in criminal justice, South Carolina distance runner Otis Jones may be at the front of the pack with his academics. Now the fifth-year senior looks to do the same in the 800m run. Although he has qualified for the NCAA East Regional in each of the last three years, he is driven by the fact that he has yet to qualify for the NCAA Championships.

“I won bronze last year at the SEC Outdoor Championships,” Jones said. “Everyone kept asking, ‘how does a guy who got bronze at SECs not get to nationals?’ That’s what I’ve been battling. I just have to get over that barrier. I want to make the national meet.”

While reaching nationals is a goal, he won’t be satisfied simply by getting there.

“This year, I have to focus on less talk and more action,” Jones said. “It would mean a lot for me to get there. This is my last year. I came back just to run again. I don’t want to just make it to nationals, though. I want to be on the podium.

“I’m always confident that I can do it. I have to get through prelims, then I have to get through the finals.”

Jones is not one to make excuses, and he is determined to demand more from himself in his final season.

“My key to preparation means I can’t take a rep off,” Jones said. “I need to be more consistent in practice. I have to know how to pace out each rep. What I do in practice is a trend for what I do out there in the playing field. If I get tired in a rep, I need to learn how to not be tired.

“I need to make sure I’ve given everything, every time. More action, less talk. I can say I’m going to run a certain time, but if I’ve exhausted myself and done it, then I know I can do it in competition.”

“That would make me feel like I’ve accomplished everything I came here to do.”
РOtis  Jones

In addition to his physical training, Jones is paying attention to his psychological training as well.

“There’s a big mental game that goes into it,” Jones said. “I have to be more consistent. I can’t have a good meet and then come back the next week and have a bad meet. That’s not how track works. You have to have a good meet in order to progress to the next level. Once you peak, you have to continue to peak. Otherwise you’re not going to the next level. You’ll be sitting at home and watching it on TV. That hurts, especially seeing guys that you know you’ve beat in the SEC Championships and you know that you’re supposed to be there.”

Though he’s nearing the end of a long career that started while he was in middle school, Jones still finds joy in his laps around the track.

“What I like about my event is that you are never behind,” Jones said. “I like the ending part of the race. In the last lap, it’s never over. I like to kick it up in the last 200 or 300 meters. I can always inch up to the leader. The 800 is a unique event because you’re never out of it. You just have to keep kicking. You can be in the back or the middle or even the front, and your spot is never solidified. It’s always up for grabs.”

Having been so close to reaching his goal in previous years, Jones knows what the expectations are, and now that he’s one of the older runners on the team, he is willing to take on a leadership role.

“What (assistant) Coach (Andrew) Allden and the rest of the staff wants for me is to be a leader for the distance team,” Jones said. “They want me to be better than previous years. They want me to be on the top level. They have high expectations. The relays are going to be really good this year.”

With degree in hand and the desire to become a police detective in the future, Jones is excited about putting the pieces together with the goal of standing on the podium at nationals next spring.

“That would make me feel like I’ve accomplished everything I came here to do.”

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