Jalen Jones picked up a first place and a second place and two PRs Sunday at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Championships in Lawrenceville.
In the 400, Jones smashed his lifetime best of 48.37 that he set in his last open race, at the Monmouth Spring Invitational in West Long Branch last month. His best 400 before that was a 48.38 indoors at the Armory when he won the 400 at the 2020 indoor MAAC Championships.
Jones finished nearly half a second ahead of second-place Jadyn Tabois of Iona, who was second in 48.73.
Jones advanced to the 400 finals with a 49.25, which was the second-fastest qualifying time in the trials. Rider’s James Green, who led qualifiers with a 49.10, finished third in 49.23.
Monmouth has only had three previous conference champs in the 400 – Ben Boyd in the Northeast Conference in 2012 (49.22) and Malcolm Chavis in 2017 (49.57) and Nadale Buntin (now at Rutgers) in 2019 (48.78) in the MAAC.
Jones led the 200 qualifiers with a huge PR 21.72 in Saturday’s trials. His previous PR was a 21.96 from two weeks ago at Fast Times Before Finals at Rowan University and before that 22.21 in a meet at West Point, N.Y., in March. Before this spring, his 200 PR was 22.24 indoors from a meet at Ocean Breeze in February of 2020.
Jones also ran a 48.87 second leg on Monmouth’s winning 1,600-meter relay team, which won in 3:15.52.
Jones was more of a 400-800 runner in high school. He only ran the 200 sporadically, PR’ing at 22.81. But he ran 1:55.99 in the 800 at 2017 Group 3 sectionals at Northern Burlington along with a 48.84 at 2018 Group 3 states at Central Regional in Bayville.
He’s only run one 800 in college and ran 1:55.50 indoors at Monmouth in February of 2020.
Monmouth outscored second-place Rider 295 1/2-217 1/2 to win the team title. It was the Hawks’ seventh team title in a row.