Even though it was dubbed “senior day,” the real star of the day was a redshirt junior.
Mahagony Jones was victorious in all three of her events at the Multi-Sport Facility on Saturday, winning in the individual 60- and 200-meter dashes, and running a key leg in the team’s victorious 4x400 women’s relay.
The meet, the Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup, was the first scored meet of the season for the Lions, who came out on top on both the men’s and women’s sides. It featured competition from schools such as Cornell, South Florida and Virginia.
“Mahagony has come a long way this year. It’s been wonderful to see her break out and run at the caliber we believe to be her as an athlete,” coach Beth Alford-Sullivan said.
Jones used the successful meet on senior day as a reason to look forward to the future.
“It makes me look forward to next season when I’ll really be a senior on the track,” she said.
The Lions’ women’s team had its way with the competition Saturday, putting up 177.50 points, while the next highest scorer, Princeton, had 86 points.
Jones’ 200 time, which clocked in at 23.64, is both her own personal best, and the best for Penn State this season. Her time also ranks second in the Big Ten and 13th in the country for the season.
Jones mentioned that she put in a bit of extra work in speed this week, but had to prepare differently for each event as they were of three different distances.
Sullivan also spoke to Jones’ improved leadership in 2013.
“She’s a lead by example person. She’s not a real outspoken, or a real ‘rah-rah’ kind of person, but she’s very invested in the program and doing well for the program,” Alford-Sullivan said. “She’s just done a really good job on stepping up, training hard, and producing on the weekends.”
Jones ran the second leg of the 4x400 relay, alongside teammates Dynasty McGee, Kirsten Nieuwendam and Kiah Seymour. The team wound up with a total time of 3:38:48, which is a team-best for the season and ranks second in the Big Ten.
Jones spoke proudly of her role in leading the team.
“I let them know that we’re good, that we can beat any team that’s out there,” the Cleveland native said.
Jones was also named the inaugural “John Lucas Athlete of the Week,” in an award named after former Penn State professor, men’s track and field coach, and Olympian John Lucas, who passed away in November 2012.
This was the final home meet for the season. Next week, the Lions will split the team up, participating in meets in Ohio, Arkansas, and Washington, before participating in the Big Ten Championship meet in Geneva, Ohio the following week.
Though the Lions didn’t face any Big Ten competition at home during the indoor season, Jones said she is using the energy from this final home meet to take her season to the next level.
“It really meant a lot, because since it’s the last home meet it pretty much prepares us for championship season,” Jones said. “[It gave us] a lot of confidence because there is different competition compared to the schools that come here.”