Jonathan Jones in action at this year’s UB Invite. (Courtesy UB Athletics)
The first NCAA champion in University of Buffalo history is now taking aim at the Rio Summer Olympics.
Jonathan Jones will try to become the first UB athlete to make the Olympics when he competes on July 1 in Eugene, Ore., for a spot on the U.S. team in the shot put.
Jones won the event in the NCAA Championships on June 10, 2015. His school-record toss of 20.78 meters (68 feet, 2.25 inches) on his second attempt gave Buffalo its first NCAA champion, a moment judged the greatest in UB sports history.
“Bringing a national championship back to Buffalo is a dream come true,” Bulls throws coach Jim Garnham Sr. said after the meet. “Jon beat some awesome talent — but it was a nail biter. There’s something special about him. It hasn’t quite hit me yet that we have a national champion. I’m on cloud nine.”
Penn State’s Darrell Hill matched Jones’ 20.78 meters on his third attempt, but Jones’ first throw of 20.31 meters bested Hill’s second-best mark.
“It’s an unreal feeling,” Jones told The Buffalo News. “It still really hasn’t hit me that I’m a national champion. The more I say it, it kind of hits home. To be the first for UB is unreal.”
The Buffalo native, a six-time All-American at UB, finished fifth at the 2016 World Indoor Championships in March with a toss of 20.31 meters, the best by an American in the event. So the best may be yet to come.
“It would mean the world to be able to represent USA,” Jones told The Spectrum, UB’s student newspaper, “and not only USA, but also UB and my hometown.”
On the cover: Jonathan Jones’ victory in the shot put last year gave Buffalo its first NCAA championship. (Courtesy UB Athletics)
THIS WEEK’S GREATEST MOMENTS
• Monday: Ball State and Belmont
• Tuesday: Bemidji State and Boston College
• Wednesday: Boston University and Bowling Green
• Thursday: Brown and Bucknell
• Friday: Buffalo and Cal State Bakersfield