Lewisburg, PA– Franciscan University of Steubenville runner Bill Jones won the 10k race at the Bucknell Bison Invitational, running a time of 29:11.37 and making him the second fastest runner in the history of Division III outdoor track and field.
"It was the best race of my life," Jones said. "I surprised myself."
While the other members of the Baron track team competed at the Westminster Invitational, Jones traveled to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, with assistant coach Daniel Kuebler to the Bison Invitational, a Division I meet. Not only did Jones win the 10k against all Division I opponents but he also beat out the 2012 Atlantic 10, 10k Champion, Kevin McDonnell.
"I was with him in the first half," Jones said. "Then he pulled away about twenty yards and I started to gradually reel him back in. Then, at the last mile, I started to pull away."
In the last lap of the race Jones "unleashed the beast," in his words, and crossed the finish line a full five seconds ahead of McDonnell.
"It was one of the best races I've ever seen in my life," said assistant coach Kuebler who is also Jones’ head coach on the Franciscan University Cross Country Team. "He ran smart and he ran tough."
Jones said the tougher competition but relaxed atmosphere of a Division I meet, with its limited expectations and pressure, helped him run a faster time. Jones said he was able to focus on himself in this meet instead of his opponents.
"I didn't think I was going to come back," Jones said, "I just ran my race and once I realized he was in reach, I took him."
Jones, who came in fifteenth in the 10k at the Division III National Championship last season, said that all year his coaches have been telling him to just run his race. Jones ran nearly even splits for the entire twenty-five-lap race, playing to his natural strengths as a long distance runner.
"That's exactly what I did," Jones said. "The key to success is running the race that you know how to run. I ran even and controlled and that's my race—and it worked."
Jones, who now ranks first in the nation in both D II, and D III and eleventh in D I, travels to the Penn Relays next week to compete in the 5000m run.
"I want to thank all of my coaches, especially Coach Kuebler who came to the race with me. You all made this possible," Jones said. "I thank my teammates for being so supportive. You guys inspire me, too. Just because we're at different meets doesn't mean we're not a team. We're all in this together."
Jones looks forward to the National Championships on May 23-25, and said that the race was a major confidence builder for him.
"I didn't expect to run that fast," Jones said. "It was a 'winning' kind of day."