BAKER — It has been an eventful year for former Baker School track and field athlete Morgan Jones.
Jones, the 2012 Class 1A state champion in girls discus, just finished her freshman year on the University of South Alabama track and field team. She capped her year with a personal best throw of 132 feet, taking ninth in discus at the Sunbelt Conference Track and Field Championship.
"It's definitely been a good experience," she said. "I think that, overall, I was pretty well prepared for it as far as academically. The track team has been very welcoming as far as the people.
"It's had its stressful moments and some pretty hard workouts, but it's been a great end result so far. The disc is going well. I finished a new (personal record) at the Sunbelt outdoor conference championships a few weeks ago."
Jones, who also competed in the shot put at Baker, no longer throws the shot. South Alabama coaches moved her from the shot to the hammer throw.
A women's hammer weighs 8.8 pounds and is attached to a line that is 3 feet, 11 inches long.
"My coach made me start doing the hammer once I got there," she said. "It's an outdoor event. It's not my favorite at the moment, but it's coming along.
"There is a lot of technique to learn."
South Alabama coaches stress not worrying about competition, and for athletes to compete against themselves and their personal bests in the respective events, Jones said. Rather than try to beat competitors, Jones tries to improve upon her previous best marks.
She seems to have peaked at the right time of the season as she had her personal best in the hammer and the discus at the Sunbelt championships. Her best hammer throw was 40.91 meters, or about 134 feet.
Even as an honor student at Baker, Jones found she had to adjust to the high academic and athletic standards of college.
"The biggest thing I probably found to overcome was just the workload," she said. "You go to classes early in the morning and you have practice in the middle of the day. You squeeze lunch in some time and then you practice two hours later.
"And then you end up having class until 9 o'clock at night, and you have to get dinner and you have to study. I like it because you don't have to go to school set hours, but it is harder because you are having to take longer classes and harder classes. Professors don't really care if you are there or not, but you still get a grade at the end of the semester, regardless if you go."
Looking to the future
Jones said a lot of the honor courses she took at Baker transferred to South Alabama, which put her a step ahead in the classroom.
"I'm happy where I'm at academically," Jones said. "I changed my major recently. I'm really happy with that and I think it's going to be great.
"I recently changed it to elementary education (from pre-med) and I'm trying to decide between first and second grade. I don't know why I didn't realize that sooner, but I just love working with kids, and that's where I need to be."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.