IF YOU ASK how life is going for Alyssa Jones (Southridge, Miami) in her frosh fall at Stanford, the No. 1 HS All-America in the long jump has her answer ready.
“I’m doing pretty well,” she says. “I definitely love the academics and being around a bunch of other students who are really academically, I guess, actively awesome. Some of the things my classmates have done are really cool. And so definitely glad I chose Stanford because this was the environment I wanted when it came to my college experience.”
Athletic considerations, of course, were weighted heavily also in the college choice for Jones, who additionally earned a pair of No. 2 All-Am ratings in the LJ and high jump in ’21. The prospect of rubbing shoulders with others putting out top performances on the track and field proved to be a powerful draw as well.
“I got to see a few of the other commitments before I did my commitment,” Jones says. “So seeing Juliette [Whittaker] commit, Roisin [Willis], Caroline [Wells] and all of them, I was kind of looking forward to joining this class. In addition to other runners we already have on the team, it feels like we’re building up.”
Jones — who won 4 State titles her senior year (100, 200, HJ, LJ) after scoring 3 as a junior — gleaned another clue coach J.J. Clark’s Cardinal squad was a comfortable fit when she made her campus recruiting visit.
“One thing Stanford really put out that none of the other schools kind of did,” she says, “was a sense of I guess realism because when I went to Stanford’s locker room, it was showing that they were actually training. There were clothes everywhere, but it showed that it was real while other locker rooms were like all perfectly pristine and obviously made up for the recruits.”
Clark laughs upon hearing this last comment. “They study in their locker room, it’s a place where they meet and it’s a real locker room,” he says. “I didn’t know that was a factor, the locker room, but I thought maybe it might have been some of the other things that we could offer.”
Sometimes an arguably mundane detail moves the heart. The approach of Stanford jumps/multis coach Arthur “Iggy” Ignaczak spoke to Jones’s head.
“Coach Iggy, he broke it down,” Jones says. “He brought a paper out, and of course cuz of the academic part of Stanford it was kind of like a breakdown goal sheet in this kind of Excel format. And he really worked and showed what with just percentages of improvement I could do.
“It really appealed to me, the fact that with just a couple percentages I could get this much distance and we can work towards it.
“And then of course in terms of other frosh jumpers coming in, I also have Alaysia [Oakes], my teammate who I got to jump with at New Balance a couple times. She’s also a really great jumper [20-2½/40-7¾] and so there’s just the competition within the team, and then also just some of my older teammates that are also really good at certain techniques and stuff. I’m learning a lot from them.”
Jones didn’t just jump at the elite New Balance Indoor and Outdoor meets last school year. She won both and her best mark at the summer version, 21-2½ (6.46), led the prep list. She brings quality marks in the 100 (11.67), 200 (23.49) and high jump (5-11½), as well.
“She has a lot of different weapons and speed, a lot of talent in different areas,” says Clark. “So we are excited just to have her develop here as a Cardinal.”
While the Stanford long jump record, 21-11¾ by Jackie Edwards in ’91, appears to be within Jones’s reach, Clark has no interest in talking about that.
“There’s no putting pressure on,” he says. “We talk in terms here at Stanford of maximizing your ability, and if you maximize your ability, you are going do a lot of things well and that will take care of everything else.”