TAMPERE, Finland – Cortney Jones didn’t have a lot of time to contemplate her first competitive appearance in Team USA red, white and blue.
Lining up in the first of five preliminary heats of the 100-meter hurdles Friday at Ratina Stadium, Jones methodically powered away to a heat victory and a spot in Saturday’s semifinals. The second-year Seminole won in 13.53 – fourth-fastest in the field of 41 at the IAAF World Junior Championships – despite a -1.3 headwind.
“Cortney did well handling her first international championship race,” said Brandon Hon, FSU’s director of sprints, hurdles & relays. “Despite it being a new experience for her, she’s learned that doing enough to win your heat and advance is all that matters in multiple rounds.
“She’s ready to turn it up tomorrow.”
Advancing to Saturday’s semifinal, set for 6:55 a.m. (ET), Jones will once again line up in the first heat, needing a top-two finish to assure a spot in Sunday’s final. With a season-best time of 12.89, the third-fastest time by a U20 athlete in history, Jones is a serious medal contender.
Her stiffest competition will come from USA teammate Tia Jones, the fastest preliminary qualifier (13.25) and Jamaicans Britany Anderson (13.37) and Amoi Brown (13.49).
While Jones is still a round away from advancing to the final, her Seminole teammate Jayla Kirkland, will have an opportunity to chase a medal in Saturday’s 200-meter final.
Kirkland, who just completed her freshman season at FSU, successfully navigated a pair of rounds on Friday to reach the final. The Birmingham, Ala. native won the first of three preliminary heats in 23.41 to begin the day, then advanced from the semifinals with a second-place heat finish in 23.54.
“Jayla showed a lot of poise running two 200s, eight hours apart with a rain delay,” said Hon, who is in attendance. “She actually ran a better curve the second time. Executing better each round is what you look for at these championship meets.”
With the sixth-fastest time among semifinalists, Kirkland has drawn lane 8 for Saturday’s final, which is set for 8:05 a.m. Despite the less-than-ideal lane assignment, Kirkland holds the second-fastest time of anyone in the field (22.93), trailing only USA teammate Lauren Rain Williams (22.51)
“Now it’s time to turn on the, ‘gotta have it,’ attitude for a big Saturday,” Hon said.
You can keep abreast of the Noles in action via Twitter @FSU_Track or by following live results at https://www.iaaf.org/competitions/iaaf-world-u20-championships/iaaf-world-u20-championships-tampere-2018-6082/timetable/byday.
A recap of Saturday’s action will be streamed at 7 p.m. (ET) on the Olympic Channel https://www.teamusa.org/olympic-channel-broadcast-schedule.