TEMPE — It’s been a good year for track and field for the Gila Valley this year with state titles earned by Safford and Thatcher.
Local athlete Caden Jones, of Thatcher, took it one step further in the AIA Meet of Champions last Saturday. Dozens upon dozens of schools around the state sent athletes to the elite meet, and Jones was able to take seventh overall in triple jump with a distance of 40 feet, 5 inches.
2019 actually marks Jones’ first year of track and field, even though he’s a senior. Despite being a rookie, he is the new record holder for triple jump at Thatcher High School.
Jones said, “I’m really grateful for the opportunity I had to go out this year. I really do love this team and this sport, and couldn’t have asked for a better coaching staff and season. Coach Brown believed in me and pushed me each and every practice. I love him and couldn’t have done it without him. Coach Estrada is the one who asked me to come out for the season in the first place, and I really couldn’t have done it without his words of encouragement and for seeing my potential. I do wish I would’ve gone out sooner, but I’m glad I got to do it this year and hope to be able to continue it throughout my college years.”
Mother Micah Monaco said, “I was quite surprised when Caden let us know he was going to do track this year. He hadn’t ever taken an interest in the past years, and this would all be new to him. When the season started, he was excited for practices and looked forward to his first track meet. Days before his meet, he found himself injured with a sprained ankle. He was bummed but didn’t let it hold him back. He worked hard to get back on the track halfway through the season, where he qualified for state in all four of his events: long jump, triple long jump, 100-meter sprint and 200-meter sprint.
“Caden has heart, determination and the spirit of perseverance when he sets his mind to do something. Those qualities, along with a great track team and amazing coaches, helped Caden to see his potential and got him to state and pushed him further than he thought possible. I love that he has found a new passion for track. I believe his senior year was just the beginning of new possibilities for him. We are proud of him and love him.”