Jones hopes shorter race will help to qualify for NCAA Regional Championships

After running a personal-best time of 47.40 seconds in the 400 meters, sophomore Dan Jones left last weekend’s Florida Relays having learned an important lesson.

“It’s good to listen to the coach.”

Jones said Illinois track and field head coach Wayne Angel deserved the credit for his performance, which dropped 1.81 seconds off his previous best time in the outdoor season.

“I wasn’t really sure how to run it, but I just decided to ask coach … he gave me a strategy, and I just followed through with it, and it worked out,” Jones said.

Heading into this weekend’s Spec Towns Invitational in Athens, Ga., Angel has another strategy for Jones: run the 200 meters.

“Coach decided for me to get a fast time in the 200 so it would help me out in my 400 for next week so I can qualify for regionals, since I got close last week,” Jones said.

Jones was just 0.2 seconds short of qualifying for the NCAA Regional Championships last week, and after running the 200 meters this weekend, he hopes to qualify in the 400 meters. Angel’s overall expectations for his team this weekend are similar to the ones he has for Jones.

“(We will be) just trying to get some qualifiers, continue to evaluate these athletes that we have, to be able to find the right people to put that team together for the Big Ten Championship,” Angel said.

Jones wants to be one of Illinois’ impact athletes in the 400 meters, and his race this weekend will prepare him to be just that.

“I was a little surprised that I went that fast (last weekend), but I think I can go faster,” he said.