In qualifying here Monday in the discus throw at the U.S. Olympic trials, the Wildcat senior improved on each of his succeeding throws with a best of 194 feet, 1 inch (59.17 meters) to advance to Thursday's final here at Hayward Field on the campus of University of Oregon.
"I couldn't be happier," Jones, 23, said after the three rounds of throwing.
Jones is only the second Wildcat track and field athlete to qualify for the U.S. Olympic trials in two events during a year of collegiate eligibility and the first since sprinter Bobby Morrow in the 100 and 200 in 1956. Morrow was a triple gold medal winner for the Wildcats as a sophomore.
(Three other former Wildcats qualified in two events in one year during their post-collegiate careers -- sprinters Mark Witherspoon and Mickey Grimes and decathlete-vaulter Tim Bright.)
Jones is the fifth current or former Wildcat to compete in the U.S. Olympic trials in the throwing events -- but the first to make a final.
After a morning rain and in 63-degree weather, Jones opened with a safe 179-8 (54.78 meters), then improved to 194-0 (59.14) in the second round and 194-1 (59.17) in the third round. With the top 12 of 24 throwers advancing to the final, Jones started in 17th place, but he jumped to 11th with his second throw.
Lance Brooks of Nike was Monday's leader with 212-7. Five were over 200 feet, and eight threw past the 60-meter (196-10) line in the discus sector at Hayward Field. The 12th and final qualifier was Luke Bryant of Oklahoma at 192-7.
"It's all about competing on a day like this even in the rain," Jones said. The discus competition started without rain, but it resumed during the third round of the second flight, which included the Wildcat senior.
"We thought 59 meters would be what I needed to throw to get in the finals," Jones said of his training and preparation with coach Jerrod Cook. "But I wanted to throw further. I definitely wanted to get a good mark to get to the next round.
"I didn't want to get timid in the ring," he continued. "You can still get good grip and balance even when it's wet. I had good drive and power with my right leg."
A four-time NCAA Division II champion in the discus, Jones was ninth in the U.S. championships here last year. "It's fantastic to get another chance to throw in Eugene," he said.
Jones will resume training here Tuesday and Wednesday at Lane Community College. "I may even lift a little to keep my body strong and loose," he said.
Jones is ranked 10th on the latest 2012 American discus list and No. 3 among collegiate throwers. "I definitely see myself as another link in the chain," Jones said. "We have such a rich tradition at ACU. One of my goals is to be the next Olympian from ACU as I get older and stronger."
The average age of the three discus throwers on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team was 29 years.
Only four American throwers have the automatic standard for the 2012 Olympic Games in London of 65 meters (213-3) during the qualifying period. They are 2012 U.S. leader Russ Winger, former Texas Tech thrower Jason Young, and Olympians Ian Waltz and Jarred Rome.
Waltz is the reigning trials champion.
Young, now the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Red Raiders, is a former Big 12 and NCAA runner-up who has been ninth in the discus at each of the last two trials in 2004 and 2008.
Jones is competing in the U.S. championships for the third straight year with finishes of 17 in 2010 and 9 in 2011.
Information provided by ACU athletics department.