South’s Jones signs to pole vault at PSU

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Katie Jones of South Williamsport, front middle, signed a letter of intent to pole vault for Penn State's Track team next year. From front left is Patti Jones, Katie's mother, Katie, and Mike Jones. her father. Back left is Coach Chris Molino, and pole vaulting coach Ted Deljanovan.

Katie Jones sat in the South Williamsport High School library with a pen in her right hand and a blue Penn State folder on the table below and in that folder was her future.

Jones, cladded in a long sleeve blue Penn State shirt, pulled out her letter of intent to compete for the Nittany Lions next year. With intense focus, just like when she competes in the pole vault, Jones signed her letter of intent as a crowd of over 30 family, friends, teammates and coaches cheered.

Jones admitted that she was nervous to sign her letter of intent but not because she was having second thoughts on her decision.

“I was nervous because I’m not the best at signing stuff, my signature isn’t the best,” Jones said. “I was nervous how that would go.”

Jones had offers from other schools and was interested in colleges including Villanova, Duke, North Carolina and Virginia Tech, among others. But she chose Penn State due to the academics and the track and field program that has recently won a gold medal and had an All-American.

“First of all, it’s just a great college in general,” Jones said. “The academic side of things is just fantastic. I’m going to study kinesiology there, well that’s the plan as of now. They have a great kinesiology program there and their track program is really strong. They’ve won the Big Ten title a few times and their vaulters are in really great shape and they have a good coach. And my brother, he goes to Penn State and he’ll be on campus with me next year and he really tried to influence my decision there because he wanted to look after his younger sister.”

Jones, who was a district and state champion last spring in the pole vault, also chose Penn State because it was close to home. Though she had other offers from down south, she chose to stay close to home.

“I didn’t want to go too far away which is great about Penn State. It’s close, people can come see my meets and stay close to my family,” Jones said. “I had to turn some people down because it was too far. Even if it was a great program because I wouldn’t be happy there.”

Last year, Jone’s started to train down in Harrisburg year around. She competes in indoor during the winter and she even practices down there twice a week during the spring season. She also attended a few camps over the summer while she was receiving phone calls and messages from colleges.

“It has helped me a lot. It’s just getting more reps and getting on the poles I need.,” Jones said. “They just have great facilities and great coaches and it all just came together last year.”

Jones vaulted a 13-0 in last year’s state championships, beating the previous record by a foot, and her 13-0 would’ve been good for ninth in the Big Ten Championships last spring. Her personal record of 13-3 would’ve been tied for seventh. But her new goal this upcoming season is to reach 14.

“My first milestone will be to break 14 feet. I have high hopes to do that, if not in indoor season then hopefully outdoor season,” Jones said. “That’s definitely one of my goals and just to repeat what I did last year and do as best as I can in every meet.”