TORRANCE, Calif. – Cortney Jones’ days of flying under the radar are over.
Finishing second to world record-holder Keni Harrison Saturday, Jones laid down an NCAA-leading and Florida State school record time of 12.82 in the 100-meter hurdles as the top collegian in the Mt. SAC Relays invitational event.
The Rockdale, Ga. junior took down Anne Zagre’s FSU record of 12.83 from 2014 and beat some of the world’s elite hurdlers, finishing only behind Harrison’s world-leading time of 12.63. Jones, who ran 12.86 on her way to a third-place finish at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Championships, currently ranks No. 3 in the world.
“I like the sound of that,” Jones said. “Keni Harrison is a great person…That’s a person I really look up to and I aspire to be, so it’s a really great feeling.”
Jones delivered the Seminoles’ second school record of the weekend on the third and final day of competition across three venues in California. And she wasn’t the only FSU athlete to enjoy a big day at El Camino College’s Murdock Stadium.
Fellow hurdler Trey Cunningham won the men’s invitational 110-meter hurdles in a personal-best time of 13.47, just a few minutes after Jones’ run. It marked his first wind-legal, sub-13.50 time and validated his wind-aided 14.43 at the FSU Relays last month.
“I felt better as a whole,” said Cunningham. “It was my first week off heavy lifting. My body feels better and I felt like I was getting over the hurdles quicker…I feel like it’s just me getting better toward where I need to be at the end of the season.
“This proved that FSU Relays wasn’t a fluke; it wasn’t the wind. I can run in the  40s. Now we’ll see how much quicker we can go from here on out.”
Cunningham ranks No. 8 in the world and No. 4 on the NCAA descending order list, and though he smashed his previous legal best by a full tenth of a second, he still ranks No. 4 all-time among Seminoles.
“After this race it’s just keeping the mindset, ‘Run as fast as Trey can run,’” Cunningham said, putting his performance into perspective. “Whether that’s the new school record or the ACC record – which is the collegiate record [Maryland’s Renaldo Nehemiah, 13.00 in 1979] – that’s what it will be. It will happen in time. I’ve just got to be patient, trust the training, trust myself and just focus on myself and the race.”
There were a number of strong performances turned in by the Noles between the Mt. SAC Relays and Beach Invitational on Saturday, among them:
• Junior Sanjae Lawrence won the Mt. SAC Relays shot put title with a personal-best throw of 18.95 meters (62-2.25), which vaulted him to No. 4 all-time among the Noles. He also finished third in the discus with the second-best mark (52.65m/172-9) of his career;
• Shanae Love’s top women’s discus mark of 61.16 meters (200-8) was the second-best of her career and good for a third-place finish at Mt. SAC;
• Sophomore Ka’Tia Seymour took over the ACC lead in the 200-meter dash (23.30), with a time which will secure the 2018 NCAA Outdoor bronze medalist a place in the NCAA East Preliminary;
• The women’s 4×100 relay of Karimah Davis, Jayla Kirkland, Shauna Helps and Seymour ran 44.13, despite some shaky handoffs, to place third at Mt. SAC;
• Rougui Sow and Jogaile Petrokaite registered season-bests in the long jump at the Beach Invitational, placing third and fourth, respectively, with top marks of 6.33 meters (20-9.25) and 6.29m (20.7.75);
• Jacore irving finished sixth in the men’s gold section of the long jump at Long Beach’s Jack Rose Stadium, recording a huge personal-best of 7.52 meters (24-8.25), and;
• Senior Armani Wallace managed only one legal mark in his outdoor season debut of the triple jump and place 10th with a respectable – albeit, conservative – mark of 15.32 meters (50-3.25).
Still, the brightest light on a relatively gloomy and cool Southern California day, belonged to Jones, who has been eager to make things right after failing to advance to the 60-meter hurdles finals at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Brandon Hon, FSU’s director of sprints, hurdles & relays, predicted that Jones was ready to run as fast as 12.75 enter the final day of competition.
“Based off of my race, if I didn’t hit the last two hurdles I can actually believe that was true,” Jones said of her coaches’ prediction. “I never know what I’m going to run. I don’t want to press for a time. I just want to go out and compete, and hope the time will follow.”
She had no idea that her first heat winning time had wiped two-time, Belgium Olympian Zagre from the record books. Still, she was happy to see the fruits of her heavier workload, since gaining her health after a difficult indoor season, pay off.
“After the season, when I was healthy enough to train, we just loaded up,” Jones said. “Transitioning from Alabama [last week] to now, we down-loaded a little bit, so we’re not going as hard in the weight room. We were working more quickly.”
When asked what’s next, following her breakthrough performance, Jones was quick with an answer.
“Whatever God has in store for me,” she said. “I don’t really plan anything. It’s between my training, my coach and God. It’s on His time and it’s never on mine.”