by Benny Benton
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Barton College senior Aaron Jones and junior Larry Russell both set school records, and sophomore Micah Clemons added a pair of top-10 performances to highlight the BC men's track team's weekend at the Buccaneer Invitational, hosted by East Tennessee State University.
As a team, the Bulldogs earned seven top-10s and 11 top-15s in the meet, the final tune-up for the Conference Carolinas Championships on February 18.
Jones, a resident of Blounts Creek, N.C., broke teammate Nihgel Scott's 2017 indoor record in the 400-meter run with a time of 48.87 seconds during Friday's preliminary round. The time is the second-fastest this season in both the conference and NCAA Division II Southeast Region.
The mark placed Jones fourth in a large field of 76 competitors, and earned him a spot in Saturday's finals, where he came home sixth with a time of 49.45.
Russell, a resident of Sicklerville, N.J., knocked down Barton's oldest indoor record by surpassing Kendrick Smith's 2015 school standard of 8.47 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles. Russell improved the record to 8.42 seconds during a sixth-place finish in the semifinals.
Both Russell and senior Qasim Ray qualified for the semifinals with top-15 performances in the preliminary round of the event. Ray set a personal record of 8.64 seconds with a 14th place finish in the semis. Russell qualified for the finals with his record-setting run, but did not compete in it because of a schedule overlap with his primary event, the high jump.
Jones and Ray were also part of Barton's 4x400-meter relay unit which finished fifth out of 18 squads with a time of 3:22.14. Senior Collin Wilks and freshman Greg Gibbs made up the remainder of the foursome.
Clemons, a resident of Greenville, N.C., posted a fifth-place finish out of 34 competitors in the weight throw with a toss of 16.74 meters. He was the only NCAA Division II participant among the top nine finishers, and his mark was less than a tenth of a meter off his own school record. He added an eighth-place showing out of 35 in the shot put with a throw of 14.44 meters.
Senior Justin Alford accounted for Barton's final top-10, placing seventh in the pole vault with the second-best mark of his career indoors, 4.0 meters.
Competing in the shot put along with Clemons, Barton freshman Chianti Ghee recorded a new collegiate best of 13.26 meters while finishing 14th. Also breaking a PR in the meet was Gibbs, who improved upon his best 800-meter mark with an effort of 2:01.34. Two other Barton team members established benchmark PRs by competing in an event for the first time collegiately, redshirt sophomore Leslie Jones in the mile (5:04.32) and freshman Alex Kelly in the 3000-meter run (10:25.36).