Bloch-Jones to represent Illinois women’s track and field at NCAA Championships

Freshman high jumper Kandie Bloch-Jones will compete this weekend at the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, N.M.

After winning a conference title two weekends ago, Bloch-Jones will be looking to add on to what has been a sensational start to her career.

Already the owner of the fourth-best performance in school history, 5 feet  11 1/2 inches, Bloch-Jones has dominated the indoor season thus far. After clearing 5 feet 10 inches at the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 14, she held the top mark in the Big Ten for the final three weeks of the season. She has finished first or second in every meet she has participated in but one.

Qualifying for the national meet as a freshman only adds to her impressive resume.

“We’re very proud of her and what she’s done,” head coach Ron Garner said. “She’s worked extremely hard to get here and competing in this meet as a freshman is a big deal.”

As the Illini’s lone qualifier for the meet, Bloch-Jones’s success has also impacted the team presently, and her accomplishments could have positive implications on the future.

“Kandie’s success is special because she’s from Illinois,” Garner said. “If she continues to do well, it sets a nice precedent for other top Illinois recruits to stay at home.”

A top-eight finish for Bloch-Jones is not out of reach, but she will have her work cut out for her. She comes into the meet ranked 13th out of 16th competitors.

With such early success, Bloch-Jones has established herself as not only one of the top athletes in the Big Ten but in the entire NCAA; however, she is determined to keep improving in order to take her skills to the next level.

“For me, there’s always more to do,” Bloch-Jones said. “Winning Big Tens was nice, but I still have things motivating and driving me.”

One of these motivations for Bloch-Jones has been to improve on her career best mark and clear 6 feet. A national stage and going against premier competition might just be the platform Bloch-Jones needed to do so.

“This weekend will be good for me,” she said. “Going against the best is always a good thing, and I want to prove that I belong.”

Mubarak can be reached at [email protected] and @justmubar.