Track and field: Timothy Christian's Jones picking up new sport quickly

  • Timothy Christian's Danardo Jones is picking up track and field quickly this spring after spending most of his high school years focusing on basketball.

      Timothy Christian's Danardo Jones is picking up track and field quickly this spring after spending most of his high school years focusing on basketball. John Starks | Staff Photographer

Updated 4/25/2019 3:15 PM

Timothy Christian boys track coach John Vander Kamp laughed when asked what Danardo Jones could do had he gone out for track for more than the spring of his senior year.

"He's learning so many basic things about warming up, getting his steps down in long jump and triple jump, how to sprint properly," Vander Kamp said when done chuckling.


The coach had asked Jones to come out for track as a junior, but the 6-foot-7 leaper was focused on basketball. Jones had transferred from Providence-St. Mel after his sophomore year, and after playing a role in the paint for Timothy Christian he was a key factor to the Trojans winning a Class 2A regional title this season.

After Timothy beat St. Edward to win that title, Jones said his vertical leap was 37 inches when last it was measured. Vander Kamp believes Jones is better in horizontal jumps, however, and Jones' early efforts have not disappointed.

On April 3 in Elmhurst, Jones ran the 100-meter dash in 11.5 seconds, the 200 in 24.2 and went 41 feet, 3 inches in triple jump, Vander Kamp said.

On April 13 at the Houseward Invite in Michigan, Jones won long jump at 20 feet. At Walther Christian on April 20 he placed second in triple at 42-5 and placed third in the 100 dash at 11.29 seconds.

"He has a lot of ability, but since it's his first year the whole notion is, what can he put together in one season," Vander Kamp said.

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"What can he learn and achieve in one season because let's face it, there are very few kids who do high school track and field for one season and can achieve much. And already he's achieved some decent marks. But he's still progressing. Let's see how much progress he can make."

On the other hand:

Hope Clark is a pillar of Timothy Christian's girls program.

A junior, in cross country she qualified for the Class 1A meet each of the last two seasons. In track sectionals her freshman year she placed third and just off the qualifying pace in the 3,200-meter run. Last spring she made it and earned an all-state, ninth-place finish in Charleston.

This season Clark has yet to run slower than the Class 1A qualifying standard in the 3,200, said Trojans coach Kevin Hackert. At last weekend's coed Walther Christian meet Clark won the 1,600 and the 3,200, running the latter 23 seconds faster than the Class 1A qualifying time of 12 minutes, 17.08 seconds.

It was part of an effort that gave the Trojans the 16-team meet victory by 38 points. The foursome of Priscilla Nartey, Kennedi Clark (no relation to Hope), Alli Myers and Sureya Alex won both the 400 and 800 relays.


Kennedi Clark, a freshman, was a four-time winner. She won long jump and joined Cailey Schuurmann, Paige Hoving and Elise Terpstra on a first-place 1,600 relay.

"We are rather excited about our year," Hackert said.

Auf Wiedersehen:

When Waubonsie Valley moved its Red Ribbon Classic to Friday from Saturday to avoid anticipated rain, it knocked out one of Neuqua Valley's top athletes.

Senior Michael O'Connor had to say goodbye to the meet since he's playing the lead male role, Baron Georg von Trapp, in this weekend's spring musical at Neuqua, "The Sound of Music." Swimmer Duncan Fox is part of the ensemble, head theater director Johnathan Pontarelli added.

A tenor onstage, on the oval O'Connor has run one of DuPage County's top times in the 800-meter run, 1 minute, 58.16 seconds at Downers Grove South's Bob Cohoon Invitational on April 19. He's also run on two winning 3,200 relays, at Schaumburg and Downers South.

Videos of O'Connor participating in school variety shows can be found and Pontarelli said he is active in choir and has sung the national anthem before athletic events, but the last time O'Connor "has graced our stage" was his freshman year, part of the ensemble in "Thoroughly Modern Millie."

Scheduling has always been a problem. Working with Pontarelli and Neuqua distance coach Paul Vandersteen, this time it worked out. Just not Friday.

"I've talked with Paul a few times just to make sure we're on the same page in terms of our calendar and our schedule, but to be honest it was mostly Michael who made it work," Pontarelli said.

The 2019 "Mr. NVHS," O'Connor has been able to "do the race, run and do great, apparently, then run over to rehearsals," Pontarelli said.


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