TAMPERE, Finland – With an IAAF World U20 Championship on the line, Sunday’s 100-meter hurdles final at Ratina Stadium figures to be a battle to see who can keep up with the Joneses.
Florida State’s Cortney Jones won the first of three semifinal heats Saturday, blitzing the field in 13.24 despite contending with a headwind for the second consecutive round of competition. The victory earned Jones a lane four draw for Sunday’s final, where she will have to contend with fellow USA teammate Tia Jones and Jamaica’s Britany Anderson in the medal battle.
“Cortney responds to the championship environment really well,” said Brandon Hon, FSU’s director of sprints, hurdles & relays. “She’s got another one in her and it’s going to be a big one with a lot of competition and I think that’s going to get her excited. Of course, her goal is to win the gold and I think she’s definitely capable of doing it.”
Tia Jones, who won her semifinal heat in 13.06, which was the fastest time of the day, but also with the aid of a +0.9 wind. Anderson won the other semifinal in 13.10 (+0.5).
“It’s going to be a big matchup between two girls from the same city,” Hon said of the Atlanta-area USA teammates. “They’ve got a lot of history with each other. That rivalry was really fun to watch when I was recruiting Cortney. Somebody has got to win that race…The Jamaican girl [Anderson] is really good, too.”
The Jones’ competed against each other in high school with Cortney hailing from Conyers, Ga. and Tia from Marietta, representing Rockdale County and Walton High, respectively. As an added subplot, the USA women’s team enters the final day of competition without a gold medal; something the Joneses hope to rectify.
“They have a lot of respect for each other,” said Hon, who will be trackside for the 6:35 a.m. (ET) final.
Fellow Seminole Jayla Kirkland’s meet ended on a slightly disappointing note Saturday, when she was disqualified from the 200-meter dash final for a lane violation. Kirkland was actually the fourth runner across the finish line – just .002 seconds behind the bronze medalist – before the ruling.
It was a tough blow for the Birmingham, Ala. native who closed her freshman season with a flurry, capped by her march through two rounds for a spot in the World finals. Unfortunately, Kirkland was in lane eight and never overcame a slow start from the blocks.
Hon said Kirkland was holding up well despite the disappointing conclusion to the meet. She was also scheduled to run in the 4×100 relay final, but her USA teammates were disqualified in the prelims.
“Jayla always wants to win and when she doesn’t win there’s always some frustration,” Hon said. “She hides it so well because she always handles herself with so much class.”
Kirkland has had a memorable season, earning first-team All-American honors in the 4×100 relay, winning the ACC Indoor 60-meter title and establishing new personal-bests in three events; all of which she accomplished after a slow start due to injury.
“She’s got a lot to be proud about and excited about,” Hon said. “She’s leaving this championship season walking away versus limping away for the first time in a while.”
“She’s really put her body through the test throughout the championship season and is still healthy and running consistently well. It was just a little bit of bad luck for her lane draw, because she’s known for her second half of the race.”