Victor Jones Jr., an eighth-grader sprinter and football player at Central Florida Christian Academy, won the middle-school state championship in the 200-meter dash May 12.
While being interviewed for this story — a story about his middle-school state championship in the 200-meter dash — Victor Jones Jr., an eighth-grader at Central Florida Christian Academy, proudly points out this is the first time he has been interviewed for an athletic accomplishment.
It likely will not be the last.
Jones isn’t old enough to drive yet, but he stands tall for an eighth-grader at 6-foot-1 and gets the most he can out of his long legs. At the Florida Youth Running Association’s Middle School State Championships May 12 in Bradenton, Jones ran a 0:22.88 in the 200-meter dash to win a state title and an 0:11.38 in the 100-meter dash to finish as runner-up by .08 of a second.
The youngster is a two-sport standout for the Eagles, too, as he plays wide receiver for CFCA’s varsity football team, scoring a touchdown in the Eagles’ spring football game May 19 against Warner Christian.
Coaches and staff around CFCA’s Ocoee campus tend to think Jones only is scratching the surface of his potential, and they’re excited to see what comes next.
“Victor is a phenomenal athlete,” CFCA football coach Jeremy Campbell said. “I think, pound-for-pound, he’s probably the best athlete we have in this school — and that’s saying a lot. … He’s unbelievable — the things he can do with or without a ball in his hand.”
Despite his natural athletic abilities, this was Jones’ first time at the middle-school state championships — held annually at IMG Academy — and the rising freshman was intentional about soaking in the experience.
“It felt big — I kind of got nervous,” Jones said. “I didn’t really know I was winning until I got to the end, because I heard my mom yelling. I was surprised, to be honest.”
His mother, Tabitha Jones, is a big part of his success. Tabitha coaches for Goal Line Athletics, a local track club, and works personally with her budding speedster.
“She coaches him hard and it’s not just at practice — it’s at home, as well,” Campbell said.
Victor said his mother helps him in technical matters — improving his start out of the blocks, for instance — but also with the mental aspect of the sport.
With CFCA wrapping its spring season with a 30-0 win over Warner last Saturday, Jones now is free to get to work improving this summer. He will navigate a club track schedule as well as continue to get stronger for football.
Jones said he is motivated by his success in Bradenton, and Campbell said a little bit of recognition can go a long way for a young player.
“I think the exposure he’s getting now builds confidence,” Campbell said. “This gives him the confidence that he can play and compete with these (older) guys.”
And after a taste of the varsity game, this budding track star is equally excited to suit up for the Eagles on the gridiron this fall.
“I’m really excited,” Jones said. “I think discipline definitely will make us good. Coach (Campbell) keeps us ready.”