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HCC record-holders head to NJCAA nationals

May 17, 2007|by ANDREW MASON

Freshman Gerome Jones Jr. is picking up where sophomore Tony Clement is leaving off - as record-setting athletes for the Hagerstown Community College track and field team.

The pair will represent the Hawks this weekend at the NJCAA Division I outdoor championships in Coffeyville, Kan.

Clement, a three-time track all-American, is seeded second in the 1,500-meter run with his school-record time of 3:47.38.

Jones, who is seeded third in the shot put at 54 feet, 11 1/2 inches, also will compete in the discus and hammer throw. He already owns the school record in the hammer (158-5).

"It's Gerome's first trip to nationals, his first time on an airplane," HCC coach Andy Reid said. "He's going to have a ball."

For Clement, who recently signed with the University of Oklahoma, the meet will be his last hurrah with HCC.

"It's definitely a little sad," said Clement, who also owns the school record in the indoor mile (4:10.56). "I've got to turn my uniform in to Andy afterward."

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But he'll treat his final meet just like all of his others.

"I just want to go down there, see what happens and do my best," Clement said. "The goal always is to win and, ultimately, that would be my best. My goal, any time I go to compete, is to win."

He placed fourth at nationals in the 1,500 last spring and twice took third in the mile at indoor nationals. He was the top American in all three of those races.

The only runner seeded ahead of Clement this weekend is South Plains' John Kosgei at 3:46.58. Cloud County's Johnny Shupping, the defending champ, is seeded sixth at 3:53.98.

"My workouts have been going great, I'm coming off a few really, really good weeks of training and I'm really confident that all of it's going to come together for a really good race," said Clement, a 2005 Windber (Pa.) High graduate.

Jones, who set a Maryland Class 1A state-meet record in the shot put (58-7 1/2) as a senior at Digital Harbor in 2005, has had little trouble making up for lost time after taking last year off.

Reid said Jones has adjusted extremely well to throwing a heavier shot put and discus than those used in high school, as he's already closing in on the school records set by Steve Stone in the early 1970s - 56-10 1/2 in the shot put and 152-0 in the discus.

Jones' personal bests this spring are 54-11 1/2 in the shot put and 149-8 in the discus.

"He's 6-foot-2, 245 pounds, and he's a great athlete," Reid said. "He's explosive and powerful. He was an All-Met fullback in high school."

The shot put is the only event in which Jones is seeded in the top 10 this weekend. The top two seeds in the shot have both thrown over 60 feet.

"His goal is to break the school record this weekend," Reid said. "He likes the pressure. He seems to thrive on it."

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